By Emily Dresner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a campaign seed, not a single adventure. These are ideas to be at work as the undercurrent to the game going on, as some long term discovery for the player characters.
This touches on some religious issues. If you are easily offended by this sort of discussion, please delete this post now.
Nothing I write is canon, replaces canon, or is to be taken as such. If you are wielding the Mighty Hammer of Canon, and searching for a place to thump, then please delete this post now.
This whole thing is very rough, and sort of comes across as one big ramble. This is because it was concocted at 3:30 am and I've had exactly 3 hours of sleep before I worked for 10 hours and read hundreds of pages of technical documentation. So if something doesn't make sense, it's because I need sleep.
Go ahead and use this stuff to your heart's content.
In Nomine Backwards\Dark In Nomine
Angels only. Jean, Novalis, Eli, Yves suggested.
Only the original In Nomine sourcebook is used in this write up. No other Archangels or history from Revelations/APG/GM Screen are present.
"The History of God" - Karen Armstrong
Some of the writings of Carl Jung, Friedrich Niezsche (Beyond Good and Evil), and my Space/Time books with Newton, Leibniz and Kant. Several poems by Wordsworth and Coleridge.
"I cannot love anyone if I hate myself. That is the reason why we feel so extremely uncomfortable in the presence of people who are noted for their special virtuousness, for they radiate an atmosphere of the torture they inflict on themselves. That is not a virtue but a vice. And thus, from so-called goodness, which was once really good, something has arisen which is no longer good; it has become an evasion. Nowadays any coward can make himself respectable by going to church and loving his neighbour. But it is simply an untrue state, an artificial world."
- Carl Jung
Five hundred years ago, Jean began to ponder. The brilliant philosophy of the Faylasufs of the Byzantine was into it's waning hour. Sufism, an interesting twist on Islam provided by Gabriel in an attempt to inject Mysticism into her wildly popular religion of Unity, had seen its day of Masters and Islam itself was slowly falling back into warring factions of fundamentalism. Again the Diaspora had come to the Jews by way of the Chistian monarchs of Spain, and the Sephardic fled to the Ottoman empire to give rise to their new Kabbalistic beliefs and their new false Messiah. Jean carefully watched as, from the dust and destruction of the Middle Ages, Eli brought about hope in a thin sliver of Western Europe, which would soon become the Renaissance, through influencing a few key Soldiers,and this would lead directly to the Age of Reason. Although no one knew at the time.
Jean watched carefully as the fears left from the Dark Ages brought about a profound change in belief, and a profound paranoia of going into the world full of temptation without their God. Changes came, Satan bloomed in the imaginations of humans, horrors unimaginable had their day, and the Church began to fracture, more under the hand of John Calvin then Martin Luther. Copernicus discovered the old Ptolemaic model of the universe was found wanting, and Galileo underwent the Inquisition for verifying it. Mankind was no longer the center of the universe.
The New World was discovered. Protestantism spread. As the 17th century was entered, the old fears were giving way to new ideas.
It started with Jean's Soldier Newton, really, and his flurry of letters to Leibniz. The Divine Mechanik was the first true philosophical inspiration since Gnostic times to explain God not as above the Universe, but of it, even if the reasoning turned out to be flawed. Jean watched Mankind's first move to scientifically explain the Symphony in a rational, objective, and mathematical manner. This, Jean thought, was something he could work with. He could imagine a universe where Mankind revelled in objectivity, where they were free of the subjective evils which drove so many to the Pit.
Jean concocted an experiment, in secret, without speaking to any of the other Archangels. What if he could replace Mankind's old beliefs in God and, more importantly, Satan and Hell, with objective scientific thought? Like the Ethereals before them, was the existance of the demonic hordes run entirely on the power of belief? Would Hell shrink away without the conscious fear of mankind and eternal damnation? Would Heaven become as powerful as it once was before the Fall, full of pure, uncensored thought? All he would need to do is prod things along with a few well-placed Soldiers to find out. And that he did. It was a viable experiment.
At first, Man did away with the beliefs in the Angels and Devils. Then Man did away with beliefs in the Saints. Finally, Man did away with God himself. They no longer needing the objective overlord of a Big Brother, the philosophers claimed that God was no more then a construct of a collective consciousness who felt they needed some sort of justification in their universe (Hegel). God was no longer necessary to the human experience, when Science could be so much better. God was replaced with modern technology, mysticism replaced with psychiatry, poetry replaced with gadgets and toys. God, they announced victoriously, was dead.
Technology supplanted God. Belief waned and twisted and changed. Jean won.
But at what cost?
- I dreamed I saw St. Augustine
Modern day religion is filled with everything from wild alien cults to the modern Methodist giving methodical lip service on Sundays. Everywhere is the technology that Jean sought to employ in service. God is not as necessary as it once was.
What has Jean become? Has he become a new God? Has he become a new force in the Universe? Does he even know?
Either way, the heavens shrink into obscurity. The souls no longer come as they once did. The angels are no longer as busy. The upper heavens are closing. God no longer speaks to his creatures, if he still in fact lives.
Hell, on the other hand, is bustling with activity, as it grows and expands in new directions. Without the stringent morals, with the new looser ethics of the modern day, the lack of caring in the worth of human life twisted to become reflected in the society created out of Jean's beautiful objectivity. Hell's Principalities fill at an unprecidented rate. There are more demons then ever before, and they pour upon the earth to take advantage of a willing Humanity. The nightmares of the 15th and 16th centuries have taken root, coming to fruition. Hell is taking advantage of the loss of faith. Hell is winning.
Vapula is more then just the Demon Prince of Technology. He is the warped version of Jean, an imperfect reflection of Jean's perfect objectivity. Where Jean brings forth pure science and reflection, Vapula brings fear and uncertaintly. Where Jean brings joy in learning, Vapula brings greed and want. Be it confusing VCR instructions, broken software, or a faulty oil cap, Vapula brings a disconcerting uncertainty in the age of technology, slowly undermining mankind's belief in its ability and its science. It is inescapable, mankind Needs its toys, and is married to its trinkets and machines. Without, mankind would need to revert to its old crutch, and that just wouldn't work. That would be unacceptable.
Jean would like nothing more then to destroy Vapula and his agents. He sees him as a mar on existance, a fault in the cosmos. He stands in the way of mankind attaining its final perfection by sowing doubt and discord in Jean's perfect flawless creations.
The Archangel of Creation, more then any of the others, have stood in the way of Jean's progress. While Jean felt the need to obliterate God, Eli felt the need to preserve him. Through his Soldier William Wordsworth he spoke of the receptive frame of mind that resulted in the ecstatic vision of reality:
From the inception of the Renaissance, Eli has believed that the purely analytic, the meddling intellect, could interfere with that sort of intuition. People don't need books and theories. All that was required was a certain insight into the subjective experience, although this was not necessarily ill-informed or or self-indulgent. A truth, Eli spoke through Keats, was not a truth until it was "felt upon the pulse and carried alive into the heart by passion".
Nonetheless, Eli does not agree with Jean. While he is appreciative of his helpful hand in steering society, and thus helping to bring about new forms of Art and Artistic expression, Eli just can't help but to think that something is just wrong. He did the best he could, until he left heaven instead of risking a confrontation.
Eli is on earth, among the masses, trying to continue the spirit of inspiration through art and experience. He hopes to counter the acts of Jean by rekinding the spirit of God among a few of Mankind through art and ecstacy.
It's hard to say if Novalis really approves. Where there are people now, there are bulldozers and concrete and steel. Where distances once was a barrier between hostile peoples, communication has made war possible. Yet people are living longer, hydroponics creates more food for the needy, health care is far improved, people are more comfortable. It's undeniable, there has been progress in improving the lives of humans through Jean's scientific advances.
Is it Vapula or Jean who makes things worse for the Earth? Oil spills, toxic waste, pollution, all obviously a side product of Vapula's technology, but how much as life become simpler, less full of mystery through Jean's?
She opposes them both, in her own quiet way. Maybe working as a dam on their advances, sometimes sending servitors to chain themselves to toxic waste dumps in protest, she works in silence.
It is doubtful that Marx's original conception of the utopian society in the Communist Manifesto looked anything like Stalin's USSR or Mao's Red China. But in the hands of Malphas, anything is possible. The drive for workers to keep up the production in a society run by industry was more important then the lack of classism that was originally attempted.
Five year plans. Gulags. Classism. Deportation. Genocide. Cold War. Nuclear buildups. Global fear. No one loved the post-WWII world more than Malphas.
Born out of the industrial society, the scientific inventions and eglitarian thought brought forth a slave state that persists toward the end of the twentieth century. It forbids religion, it dismisses the concept of God, it only drives the industrial machine that it has created. It is like a belief black hole, where all that exists is the State and the politics within the State.
Malphas loves Communism. He couldn't have imagined a better invention of Mankind.
The Protestants hate the Catholics enough that they try to kill each other. The Mormons are considered a cult. Muslims plan terrorist attacks on Jews. Wasn't there a time when we could all just get along?
Maybe it was Malphas's touch which led toward secular fundamentalism. But the world is divided now. It's not obvious anymore that there's only just one God, and people have a different way of approaching it. Now people die for their views on God, just as much as any.... but people are more willing to kill, too. Abortion? Just kill the doctor, set up protests, send fear, and factionalize the Church. Is it Euthenasia? Kill the doctors, fix the votes... and factionalize, factionalize, factionalize. The news call it the 'issues which divide the nation'.
Malphas calls it his Word. All in the name of the enlightened world.
God is forgotten, belief is just a memory. None of it matters, as long as the right faction tries win, and that there is always a wrong faction to keep it from doing so.
In the rise of technology and objective thought came the Media, the electronic information machines which set the opinions, deliver the information, and raise the hemlines. In the age of technology, it's Nybbas who is giving rise to a new religion, believed through the opinions set forth through his Media machine.
Sex sells. Violence sells. Politics sells. It all sells a new sort of moralless religion, built on the backs of Jean's servitors. Electromagnetism was developed through the pursuit of objective discovery, but the Media put the vacuum tube to good use. Jean's servitors perfected the printing press methods to distribute information and promote literacy, but Nybbas and Andrealphus crank out pornography magazines.
The new religion comes on the back of technical marvels. Jean developes the TCP/IP protocol through the Defense Department (which is buggy, but I digress), and the new Religon puts up pornography in huge amounts on the Web, in mail, on Usenet.
Morals? Ethics? Emulating Christ? Who needs all that when you can see 10,000 porn sites for $12.99 a month! A religion of sex and violence, a worship of the ideals of Hell, an electronic religion built on the work of an Archangel.
Isn't the universe grand?
These are some ideas just bouncing around in my head of actual adventures to run in this world.
The idea was presented to me: send some much elder angels to find out what the players believe is truth. Take them aside, and alternate identical Seraph of Destiny and Balseraph of Fate. Give the players, in private and in conversation with their 'superior' different versions of the truth, and try to explain to them what they are learning. One will have a different spin on it then the other, but the players should believe they are talking to the same person. Say, you have the Seraph of Destiny who gives correct information that pertains mostly to the state of Jean, while the Balseraph of Fate (with Seraph resonance, go figure) gives information which is either incorrect or pertains to Vapula and his works.
Seraph of Destiny: "The television is a medium for Nybbas to mind control the masses. They should be shut off to allow humans to think again."
Balseraph of Fate: "The television is a medium for information and entertainment. We only need to put ratings on the shows and the viewers will know what content to watch."
This strikes me as something that would be sprinkled liberally through the campaign.
One idea for a prolonged quest or a longer adventure seed is to task the players via Yves with a simple mission: Find one true believer. This is not as simple as it sounds, since the GM can set up several places in which there is none to be found. The obvious places should not contain a believer. The Churches and Synagogues will be empty. The convents should be empty. A few suggestions are:
The idea is to bring back a true believer to Yves, to facilitate the opening of the heavens above. Give the players a superior angel to report to, who keep sending them on missions. Sort of like JOB: A Comedy of Justice - send them to Baptist revivals, to Fundamentalist rallies, to Catholic Masses, just to find the one true believer in God.
I am now half awake and almost dead. :) I think this is just the icing on the top - I find Superior politics to be of major importance over the long haul and the most subtle of all undercurrents to a game.
Comments are welcome. Most of this is just a major brain dump. Go forth, read, use, toss out with the delete and expunge. Have fun.
Emily K. Dresner, M.S.Eng.
Applications Programmer III and Balseraph of the Game
Desktop Applications Team - Medical Center Information Technology
"Never look directly at the sun through a Pattern Lens."
-- the LintKing
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