A Journey Of A Thousand Miles . . .
by Genevieve R. Cogman
When I was first thinking about this In Nomine project, I had visions of all sorts of exotic places. Remote monasteries in India, Antarctic bases for Servitors of Vapula, old ruined castles in Germany where the sworn remnants of Teutonic knights still maintained guard over something . . .
Art by Dan Smith
Then I began looking a little more closely at what was being asked for, and realized that what was wanted wasn't a Tour Guide To The World. What was wanted was a group of locations that could easily be slotted into a campaign without requiring the characters to go halfway across the world to get there. (Locations in Heaven, and Hell, and the Marches, were slightly different -- distance and travel became less important, and I could put interesting areas anywhere that I wanted.)
I therefore had to start thinking -- for Earth, at any rate -- about locations which weren't geographically tied down (such as the Antarctic base) but with interesting twists or secrets. I also began thinking about locations in terms of the people there. Geography, in the end, was a fairly minor part of it; it was the inhabitants who made a location interesting. The history of an area was also a factor. Innocent-looking places could have the most fascinating secrets. A kindergarten playground might have been the site of a Satanic altar, or a lighthouse might be built over an Ethereal Tether . . .
In the celestial and ethereal realms, the locations I designed were more to do with theme. A place within an Archangel's Cathedral or a Prince's Principality must by necessity have some connection to its master's Word, whether that was Stone, or the Game, or anything else. And as the Ethereal Domains were shaped by collective dreams and ideas, those even moreso would have some central concept.
This was a main difference between the corporeal locations and the others. Places on Earth usually had some sort of conflict included in their nature, to do with the inhabitants or the purpose of the area -- to make them more interesting to characters.
. . . Begins With A Single StepMy first step was to panic.
Then again, that hardly sounds professional. My second step was to work out an outline for the book, where I divided it roughly into Celestial, Ethereal, and Corporeal sections, and listed some ideas for locations in each section. In the end, a number of ideas got thrown out, and some new ones (inspired during the writing process and during everyday life) made their way in. I tried to keep to a daily schedule, in order to meet my deadline, and planned to do a set number of pages every day. Fortunately, the locations were very modular (with each one being a set number of pages) and so they could easily be marked out in chunks "to be done."
As I managed to finish chapters, I sent them off to my editor (Bob Schroeck) and the Line Editor (Elizabeth McCoy) to be checked over. To both of these, my sincere thanks for all their help and input. In a couple of cases, where a single location was particularly awkward or had details which needed urgent input, I sent the single section to be checked before the chapter was finished. A lot of email got sent both ways, and multiple versions of single locations began to swarm (and breed) on my computer hard drive.
Naturally, some locations that I'd considered didn't make it into the final draft. They either displayed problems that would require a lot of work to become feasible, or they just didn't have enough going on at first glance to make the cut.
However, nothing stops me listing a few of the rejected ideas here. And nothing stops you from taking these ideas and incorporating them into your In Nomine campaign.
The Ones That Fell Off The Map
Cliffs In DarknessThis was to be a section of David's Caverns in Heaven, totally pitch-dark, which were all wind tunnels, cliffs, and caverns. The concept was that of an area where the Servitors of Stone could fly in the midst of their element.
Messengers' HallAn area in Gabriel's Volcano where messages could be sent to and from her Servitors, and where Soldekai often coordinated matters. While a workable concept, I ended up writing the Vanishing Rooms first (parts of the Volcano that were going missing) and simply liked it better.
AvernusA bar, run by a human proprietor who claimed to be no less than Lucifer himself. I hadn't decided whether he had been convinced of this by demons, or was insane on his own account, or was acting for some other motive. In the end I decided that the idea was probably more trouble than it was worth, and was getting uncomfortably close to Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
Community Arts CenterA location on Earth, and contrary to obvious expectations, not full of Servitors of Creation. However, one of the playleaders was sexually abusing the children, and a potential pawn for blackmailing demons. This one was left out because I had ideas that I liked better, not because it was really deficient.
The MorgueA morgue attached to a police station, currently being used by a Shedite of Death as a convenient source of corpses. This location was in the end subsumed by the two separate locations of the police station and the graveyard, and was unnecessary.
Parish PublishingA small parish newspaper, run (or edited) by a Servitor of Factions who used the editorials and articles to set the community at odds. However, I ended up writing a newspaper company in Hell, and decided that another one on Earth was redundant.
Toy ShopA location on Earth which was going to be run by a Servitor of Technology, who would have been inserting brainwashing devices in the soft toys. However, I had already written a chemist with a Servitor of Technology, and had another Vapulan hanging around the cinema, and I decided that I didn't want the Earth overrun by Vapulans.
IronicaA cinema in Hell, run by a Servitor of Dark Humor, that showed films of ironic happenings on Earth. The special feature was that the owner rented out rooms guaranteed free from any eavesdropping -- at a high price, of course. This one got dropped because I decided it probably wasn't that hard to find a private place to talk in Hell.
The Room Of HoursA room in Kronos' Archives, full of clocks of various types, where Servitors of Fate could go to relax. This seemed, in the end, to be lacking in interest. (It was inspired by a room full of clocks in the British Museum.)
Getting There Is Half The FunThe process of accepting criticism and working on it is very rarely actively pleasant. It is, however, necessary, and I incorporated comments from both the Editor and the Line Editor into the work. The first draft then went up for playtest . . .
And I realized that I had forgotten to write an Introduction. Back to the drawing board -- at least now I had most of the book, so I knew what it was an introduction to.
Not Very Big, Is It?I suppose that it is normal for one's own work to seem less than satisfactory, once done. After all, I had written most of it, edited it, had it complained about -- I of all people should know how meager it was.
But, as Galileo is supposed to have said about the Earth, after being forced to publicly recant his views, "But it does move." And it is my work. In the end, the best way to compensate for complaints about it or problems that it may raise is simply to write more . . .
Article publication date: December 3, 1999
Copyright © 1999 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.