By Neel Krishnaswami <neelk @ alum.mit.edu>
A lot of the ideas I have will never see the light of day, since they won't fit into my game. But sometimes I get an idea that just won't let go, even though it's completely not the right stuff.
This is one of those ideas.
"We need guns! Big f*cking guns!"
-- Rutger Hauer, in "We Come in Peace"
Sometimes, after spending week after week tiptoeing around town laying subtle plots and carefully making no Disturbance to avoid tipping his hand, an angel can start feeling a powerful longing to just whip out the flaming sword and start kicking butt for the Lord. Sometimes even an archangel feels that way. And just this once it happens to be three of them.
This plot seed works best if you have some angels of David, Jean, and/or Gabriel to drag their friends into the thick of things.
It comes down like this. In 1983, a Malak of David attacking a Vapulan tether was forced to become indestrutible to avoid death at the hands of the demons. One of these demons was slightly cleverer than his buddies, and he took the opportunity to drag the immobilized angel down to Hell, where his dark master Vapula could experiment on it.
The Malak was not stupid, and realized that now that he was in Hell he could not safely come out of his shell (so to speak). So, wishing he had picked a slightly more comfortable position before using his attunement, he settled in for the long haul. Since David never forgets his people, he reckoned that all he had to do was wait.
After spending a few hours rubbing his hands in glee, Vapula settled in to experiment. And the Demon Prince discovered that David really does make his Malakim indestructible -- the Malakite shrugged off everything from X-ray lasers to Balseraph bombs to half a dozen really big guys with baseball bats. ("I've been such a fool! Simply adding more power won't damage him -- I need to add /even more/ power!")
We now cut to Heaven. David doesn't abandon his people, but it's hard to reach into Hell even for an archangel. But he knew his people, and he knew the strength of his gifts. Vapula would eventually decide that he needed to bring his angel to a Tether, where he could exploit the physics of both the corporeal and celestial realms.
Normally when planning such a rescue, David would simply send in a few thousand Malakim, and if that wasn't enough, he would send in a few thousand more. But since his angel was stuck at an Infernal tether, this was not a viable solution since the demons could just run away to Hell. The trouble, thought David, with owning a hammer is that not all problems are nails.
However, it so happens that a slightly lucid Gabriel overheard David muttering to himself, and in one of those flashes of brilliance realized that the problem was not one of a mighty force that couldn't be applied fast enough, but simply that there wasn't *enough* force.
The trouble, said Gabriel, is not that the problem isn't a nail, but that you aren't using a big enough hammer.
And who do you visit when you want a bigger hammer? So the two of them decided to pay a visit to the Halls of Progress, to stock up on the biggest, most jaw-droppingly powerful weapons in Heaven's arsenal.
Jean was warmly receptive to this idea, except he had one question. Wouldn't the rest of the Seraphim Council be kind of upset if the three of them decided to pull a trial run for Armageddon? So they decided to get clever. They would find a random group of angels, arm them for bear, and send /them/ to rescue the Malak!
This is where the PCs come in....
This is a chance for Jean to show off all those not-ready-for-prime-time gadgets that he has ("Um, it's called the Sodomizer."), so let your imagination run wild. After all, how many chances like this are you going to get, really?
If you are really ambitious, you might want want to let the angels try to sneak in and make off with Laurence's sword. It'll be great, really it will.
Vapula has a tether in an abandoned Army proving ground in the American Southwest. It became a tether when the chemical weapons the Army was testing accidentally killed every living thing within two miles of the base, including the small town next to the base and all the personnel on it.
There aren't any humans in a hundred miles of the place. This means you can go crazy with surreal and warped technologies on the defender's side, too! Though for the adventure to work properly, you should probably let the PCs' toys be way cooler than the NPCs' toys. If this seems off, remember that Jean manages to beta-test and /still/ keeps up with Vapula. And this time he's decided to hand off his really experimental stuff...
DAVID: We want you to rescue an angel, and --
GABRIEL: KILL LOTS OF DEMONS!
JEAN: With really big guns, yes.
There. All done.
I don't know if anyone is actually going to run this, but in case there's someone braver than I, some thoughts.
This is not a tabletop version of DOOM. The demons die much easier, for one thing. If you want to know how I'm imagining the game, think Charlie Chaplin meets John Woo. _Modern Times_ meets _The Killer_, to be specific.
The battle shouldn't be a challenge. It should be an honest to God cathartic kill-fest, like those times you took your party of 20th level characters orc-hunting in D&D. Jean and Vapula's technology provides the ironic cover you'll need to get any jaded roleplayers in your group to settle down and enjoy an afternoon of uncomplicated demon-hunting.
The combat scene should be exciting. This means the map is not your friend. You want ramps and freighthooks and stacks of crates and forklifts and M-1 Abrams tanks all in your battle scene. If something sounds cool, put it in. Let your players contribute scenery too -- scenery is cheap, and you can blow it up if don't like it, anyway.
Most importantly, have fun.
In case this is part of a campaign, I recommend that the number of character points you hand out be equal to half the number of digits in the Disturbance level they caused, rounded up. If they caused 10 million points of Disturbance, they earn 4 character points.
A dust-up of this magnitude is obviously going to have major effects on the politics of Heaven, shifting the balance of power between the war and peace factions for possibly centuries to come. To help you ignore all that, I've included this handy guide to Superior reactions:
Blandine: "Actually, I was just pretending to spend my time wistfully considering the subtle turnings and odd chances that led me to spend eternity opposing my true love. I was really dreaming of John Woo getting to direct the next Bond flick, and I guess you're as close as I'm going to get. <sigh>"
Dominic: "You flagrantly disobeyed all standing orders and all precedent to grab at the flimsiest possible rationale to shoot a turbo plasma chaingun at hundreds of demons from Hell, and all you have to say is, 'It felt good'? Sounds like good judgement to me!"
Eli: I was going to write something dissociated, witty, and yet somehow wise when I realized that I really didn't care. Sometimes deep is just ankle-deep.
Janus: "I expect my angels to come in fast, hit hard, and move out fast. But I guess once in a while it's okay to come in fast, hit hard, and stick around to hit even harder."
Jordi: Like Eli, only less relevant. (I mean, Mercurian chimpanzees?)
Laurence: "Why didn't you guys tell me what you were doing? Aw, man, it's no fair, David always leaves me out of the fun stuff..."
Marc: "Good work. However, there's the small matter of the license to kill, which you forgot to acquire before this escapade. With late fees, fines, and interest...it comes out to 3.6 billion dollars. Cash only, please."
Michael: "That was good work, for a beginner. 'Course, I coulda done a better job with only a pack of Bazooka bubble gum and a moldy Pop Tart, but I reckon it's only fair to let you guys have a few toys to even the odds."
Novalis: "You engaged in mindless, senseless destruction, and blew away hundreds, possibly thousands, of demons without showing the slightest hint of regret, remorse, or even basic respect for their dignity. Um, so where did you say you left the Sodomizer again?"
Yves: "You gave in to your anger and hate, and
succumbed to the power of the Dark Side of the Force. I am saddened, but
since you got to shoot lightning bolts from your fingertips, I guess it
wasn't a total loss."
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