A Very Nybbas Christmas
An In Nomine Scenario
by Alain H. Dawson"Oh come, all ye faithful, to the HUGE Christmas in July SALE going on RIGHT NOW at BLUMENFIELD'S!!! Hark! I hear prices dropping! Spread peace and joy all year 'round. Why wait for December? Start buying now! Nothing shows how much you care like a present from Blumenfield's! Away in a manger? Order from our catalog! Operators are waiting for your call!!"
Art by Dan Smith
Beneath reflections of Santas dancing on his glasses, Nybbas smiled. "Oh yeah. Now this has potential."
The Demon Prince of the Media has a great idea. Why not complete the secularization of Christmas in one fell swoop? Get stores to start decorating for Christmas before Halloween; hell, before Labor Day, and suck the last drops of religious meaning from Christ's birthday. Promote getting above giving. Selfishness and guilt everywhere! And put the last nail in St. Nicholas' coffin by making his namesake a pitchman. That even beats having Fred Astaire sell vacuum cleaners from the grave.
Now for some good P.R.
The Ad MenNybbas doesn't want to entrust his brain child to amateurs, so he calls in some heavy hitters to organize his campaign. Of course, any of his servants will be told to cooperate with the plan, which he is launching nationwide in the United States.
He wants to use the Blumenfield's chain as a starting place for the Christmas in July media blitz, then use their success to pressure other stores into following suit. He then plans to continue his media Christmas until he has destroyed the sanctity of the holiday. Jezreel is all set to give Blumenfield's the full Madison Avenue treatment, and Rex is along to ensure that every segment of society laps it up.
Balseraph Knight of the MediaCorporeal Forces -- 2 Strength 3 Agility 5
Ethereal Forces -- 4 Intelligence 10 Precision 6
Celestial Forces -- 4 Will 8 Perception 8
Vessel: Human/3 (Charisma +1)
Role: Advertising Executive/4, Status/4
Skills: Artistry (Graphic Art/6), Computer Operation/3, Drive/2, Fast-Talk/6, Knowledge (Advertising/6), Savoir-Faire/4
Songs: Charm (Celestial/4), Motion (Celestial/5), Thunder (Corporeal/3), Tongues (Corporeal/6, Ethereal/4, Celestial/3)
Attunements: Balseraph of the Media, Knight of Influence, Subliminal
Jezreel (known in her Role as Jessica Meyers) is a highly successful advertising executive working for the firm of Brown & Samuels, one of the hottest ad agencies in New York. Not only could she sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, she could get him to pay extra for an ice dispenser. She currently enjoys great favor with Nybbas and she wants to keep it that way.
He has asked her to get the Blumenfield's account and clean it up. Less tacky hard-sell, more palatable and marketable. She'll have to steal it from one of her competitors, but she's got no problem with that. She plans to go to the Blumenfield's execs and pitch her ideas until they sign on with her. From that point it's in the bag. Christmas practically sells itself.
In person Jezreel likes to go for the severe, board room look. She loves the trappings of success and always has on the best of everything, but never to tacky excess. She goes for $150 haircuts and $150,000 automobiles. She can easily afford both.
Demon of Cool
Balseraph Baron of the MediaCorporeal Forces -- 6 Strength 12 Agility 12
Ethereal Forces -- 3 Intelligence 6 Precision 6
Celestial Forces -- 6 Will 12 Perception 12
Vessel: Human/5 (Charisma +5)
Skills: Dodge/3, Driving/5, Fighting/5, Knowledge (What's Currently Cool/6), Savoir-Faire/6, Seduction/6
Songs: Attraction (Ethereal/6), Charm (Corporeal/5, Ethereal/4, Celestial/5), Form (Celestial/6), Light (Corporeal/6)
Attunements: Balseraph of the Media, Baron of the Fourth Estate, Balseraph of Lust, Balseraph of Dark Humor, Dark Desire, Soundtrack, Subliminal, the Demon of Cool
Special Rites: Rex gains 1 Essence every time he starts a trend
Rex is simply the embodiment of all that is cool. He always seems to be doing, wearing, or smoking the latest thing, just before everyone else discovers it. He makes James Bond look like a bum.
Just as visual media gave birth to the image of cool, the Prince of the Media gave life to the Demon of Cool, and Nybbas is a very proud parent. Not surprisingly, Rex's Word goes hand in hand with his father's. Cool would be nowhere without the media, but the media would have far less influence without the attraction of being hip.
Rex can get people to emulate any sort of behavior just by connecting it to his Word. He wields peer pressure on an international scale. He enjoys seeing what extreme or unhealthy act he can persuade humanity to undertake just because it has his stamp of approval on it. Smoking, drinking to excess, one night stands, stealing; Rex has successfully promoted all of these activities as cool.
Kobal gets along with him extremely well. After all, Kobal thrives on laughter at others' expense, and Rex makes everyone around him look ridiculous by comparison. Sometimes Kobal will dare him to popularize some hare-brained idea that no human in his right mind would try. Decorative branding is the result of the latest bet between them. Kobal paid up by giving Rex the Balseraph of Dark Humor attunement.
However, Rex's favorite Prince (aside from his father, of course) is Andrealphus. They enjoy being around each other almost as much as they enjoy being around themselves. Over the years, Rex has done as much to promote the Word of Lust as his own Word, considering them to be inseparable. Andrealphus has rewarded him with several attunements, and in other ways which neither of them will discuss.
Rex's personality and appearance are as changeable as fashion. One minute he's brooding around in a leather jacket, the next he's raving in a polyester shirt and tattoos. He learned the Corporeal Song of Light for the sole purpose of keeping himself in the spotlight, and the Celestial Song of Form so that he could change his body type as easily as he changes his clothes.
Whenever Nybbas wants Rex to perform a specific task, he teams him up with a very organized Servitor, such as Jezreel. Nybbas is aware of the necessity for both great ideas and detailed planning, the latter not being Rex's strong suit. He has the attention span of a teenager on ecstasy.
His attunement allows him to create cool, that is, to make people think that whatever he is doing or saying is cool. In person, he can affect ten people for each point of Essence he spends, making them believe that one thing he has said or done is cool. However, the real power of this attunement works through visual media. When he is seen on screen, on TV or in a photograph, his attunement affects ten thousand people per point of Essence spent. Either in the flesh or seen through a lens, his victims may make a Will roll to resist him. Celestials add their Celestial Forces to the roll.
Blumenfield'sBlumenfield's started out in the late 1800's as a department store in New York run by immigrants from Germany. Sales from their popular catalogues helped them expand into other cities, and their growth exploded in the 50's as parents bought more and more for their baby boom children. Blumenfield's has stores in more than half the States in America, but they are currently undergoing a financial crisis which leaves them vulnerable to takeover bids by other conglomerates.
The Blumenfield's executives were a little overwhelmed by Jezreel's onslaught, but they quickly realized that she would make them a great deal of money with her skill and ideas. Not being stupid, they have thrown the weight of their approval behind the Christmas campaign.
Blumenfield's CEOCorporeal Forces -- 1 Strength 2 Agility 2
Ethereal Forces -- 2 Intelligence 6 Precision 2
Celestial Forces -- 2 Will 4 Perception 4
Status: 5, Toughness +2
Skills: Computer Operations/2, Drive/3, Detect Lies/4, Fast-Talk/2, Knowledge (Business Operations/4)
Les Caldwell is a tough, savvy businessman who's skills haven't been quite enough to halt Blumenfield's slow decline. He is originally from Brooklyn, a local kid making good by getting through Harvard, and then an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. After a few noteworthy successes in bailing out companies with problems, he decided to take on the task of restoring Blumenfield's to its former glory.
The shareholders were glad to see him, but in the three years he has been at the company's helm, he has still not managed to produce a complete turnaround in its fortune. He regards Jessica and her ad campaign as promising for the company, however he is reserving judgment until solid proof arrives of her plan's effectiveness.
Blumenfield's Sales AssociateCorporeal Forces -- 2 Strength 3 Agility 5
Ethereal Forces -- 2 Intelligence 4 Precision 4
Celestial Forces -- 1 Will 2 Perception 2
Status: 2, Toughness +1
Skills: Fast-Talk/1, Knowledge (Fashion/4), Languages (Serbo-Croatian/3, Italian/2, French/2), Savoir-Faire/3
Natalia is a 23-year-old sales associate who has worked for Blumenfield's for a year. In keeping with her line of work, she is outgoing and talkative, not to mention extremely good looking. She thinks that the Christmas in July theme is rather tasteless, but she won't complain about making more commissions if the advertisements work.
She is an average member of the Blumenfield's sales force, although slightly more cosmopolitan than the norm. The GM can have her working in any city where the players are operating.
ScroogeNybbas isn't the only Prince of Hell who thinks year 'round Christmas is a good idea. Malphas is delighted with the concept. What better way to drive a wedge between Christianity and all the other religions? Act as though Christmas is the only religious holiday that Americans want to celebrate, ram it down everyone's throats regardless of their beliefs, encourage non-Christian children to beg their parents for Christmas presents, then sit back and watch the fun. This could make Yugoslavia look like a schoolyard scuffle.
Malphas has assigned his Servitors to support Nybbas' campaign any way they can. First, they should encourage Blumenfield's competitors to fight back with their own Christmas campaigns, and secondly, they should stir up resentment amongst non-Christian faiths. There's nothing that servants of Factions do so well as setting groups against each other.
Unbeknownst to Nybbas, Malphas has sent one Servitor to Earth in order to spread a rumor that the angels are behind this Christmas nonsense. Some demons are bound to believe it and try to stop Nybbas' plan, but hell, they don't call Malphas the Prince of Factions for nothing.
Impudite Servitor of FactionsCorporeal Forces -- 3 Strength 4 Agility 8
Ethereal Forces -- 3 Intelligence 5 Precision 7
Celestial Forces -- 3 Will 6 Perception 6
Role: Journalist/3 (Status/5)
Skills: Computer Operation/4, Dodge/2, Escape/2, Fast-Talk/3, Literacy/4, Lying/3, Move Silently/2
Songs: Attraction (Ethereal/3), Motion (Corporeal/3), Possession (Celestial/2)
Attunements: Impudite of Factions, Imbroglio
Hazael is a smooth operator. He is very skilled at leading people down the path he chooses for them, convincing them at every turn that it is their own idea. Creating a war of niceness between retail conglomerates is just the sort of big job he has been dying to oversee. If he does his job well, he might even get a distinction out of it.
In preparation for his current assignment, he watched A Miracle on 34th Street over 100 times. His favorite moment is when the competing department stores become outwardly altruistic in order to make more money. Not being a very original thinker, he plans to use the same tactics to get other chains besides Blumenfield's into the Christmas spirit.
He has assumed the Role of a well known columnist, and he will use the national forum of newspapers to trumpet the joy and goodwill of Blumenfield's, "as they keep the spirit of Christmas alive all through the year." Traveling around the country, he will interview the management of other large chains, asking for their response to Blumenfield's campaign and trying to goad them into defending themselves in the media.
Shedite Knight of DeceptionCorporeal Forces -- 4 Strength 10 Agility 6
Ethereal Forces -- 3 Intelligence 6 Precision 6
Celestial Forces -- 3 Will 8 Perception 4
Skills: Dodge/4, Emote/3, Fast-Talk/2, Move Silently/6
Songs: Entropy (Ethereal/3, Celestial/1), Possession (Celestial/4), Shields (Corporeal/5)
Attunements: Shedite of Factions, Knight of Factions, Imbroglio, Polarize
Shedim are generators of chaos and Jehozabad is no exception. It sows dissent wherever it goes, including Hell. Demons are not safe from its machinations any more than humans or angels. It hates everybody.
Malphas has charged Jehozabad with spreading rumors, creating a false trail to connect the early Christmas season with angelic interference. It is not on Earth to promote a particular outcome but to create suspicion and, ultimately, conflict. It would be perfectly willing to point out a demon to an angel simply to start a fight between them, thus lending credence to its murmurs of an angelic plot. It has even been known to possess weak and inexperienced angels (by using the Song of Possession) and get them into loads of trouble with friends and enemies alike.
Once set into motion, Jehozabad will continue to widen any distance between two groups and inflame any tensions it can discover until Malphas recalls it. The only way to stop it is to deprive it of a host, expose its lies, or get it in trouble with the Prince of Factions. Even then, it may return to continue its work. Like a bad check, Jehozabad keeps coming back.
The More the MerrierAndrealphus is not all that turned on by Nybbas' plan, but he definitely likes media exposure, and Rex has also requested that Nybbas work with the Prince of Lust to spice up his campaign. "It's summer, so people want to think about being cold. And what do you want to do when it's cold? Have sex! I'm telling you dad . . . ouch! . . . I mean, Sir."
Andre has agreed to lend some of his Servitors for the purpose of making Christmas sexy. The Lilim do look cute in those fur bikinis . . .
Lilim Servitor of LustCorporeal Forces -- 3 Strength 3 Agility 9
Ethereal Forces -- 5 Intelligence 9 Precision 11
Celestial Forces -- 2 Will 3 Perception 5
Vessel: Human/3 (Charisma +2)
Role: TV Personality level/4, Status/6
Skills: Emote/5, Move Silently/3, Savoir-Faire/4, Seduction/5
Songs: Attraction (Ethereal/4, Celestial/2), Charm (Corporeal/2, Ethereal/3, Celestial/4), Numinous Corpus (Fangs/2)
Artifact: A ruby pendant which grants her Seduction/6
Attunements: Lilim of Lust, Dark Desire
Discord: A level/5 Geas owed to Andrealphus
Lola is an average Lilim in most ways, (turn ons: red hair, control; turn offs: angels, losing) but she has more than her fair share of street smarts. Her brightest move lately has been to shack up with Rex. Not only is he a big shot in Hell, he's killer handsome and in favor with her Prince. She can't lose. Now if she could just get a Geas on him, things would be perfect.
She is Rex's ulterior motive for including Andrealphus in the Christmas plan, and she's thrilled to be along for the ride. Her bombshell looks and long red hair are going to be a main focus of the TV and print ad campaign, along with Rex and his sex appeal. Like any demon, particularly a Lilim, she loves to be the center of attention.
Andrealphus himself gave her the ruby pendant she wears in exchange for her Geas. He encouraged her to use the artifact on Rex so that he would become attached to her, thus giving Andrealphus a hold over a high ranking demon in Nybbas' organization. The Prince of Lust would also like to see her get a Geas on Rex, which is why he sent her for this particular assignment.
Greed is GoodHazael has a buddy who just happens to work for Mammon, and he's asked her to join in the fun. Mammon himself has given her his approval to run amok. She wants to use the festivities to promote credit card debt, shoplifting, squabbling over Beanie Babies; in short, greed. 'Tis the season to dip into your kids' college fund and get a second mortgage.
Habbalite Knight of GreedCorporeal Forces -- 3 Strength 5 Agility 7
Ethereal Forces -- 4 Intelligence 8 Precision 8
Celestial Forces -- 4 Will 10 Perception 6
Skills: Computer Operation/4, Drive/2, Emote/6, Fast-Talk/6, Knowledge (Contract Law/5), Lying/4
Songs: Charm (Celestial/3), Form (Celestial/3), Projection (Corporeal/4), Thunder (Corporeal/2)
Attunements: Habbalite of Greed, Knight of Treasure, Art of the Deal, Only the Best
Tabitha considers it her life's work to teach people a lesson about greed. In her opinion, the only way to renounce greed honestly is to embrace it and lose everything. She works tirelessly trying to sink people into debt, and nothing pleases her more than an eviction or a broken marriage caused by her efforts. Even a homeless person panhandling on a street corner raises her ire. The only way to escape her influence is to be broke and happy to stay that way. In her eyes, that is a blessed state.
In person, Tabitha exudes a quiet aura of dedication and (in loftier moments), piety. This serves her well, since her usual method of taking her victims' money is through promoting bogus charities. She is quite adept at mail fraud and especially proud of herself when she bankrupts senior citizens, leaving their children a legacy of debt.
She is going to do her darndest to ensure that people spend money like water during the extended Christmas season. Her goal is to make people's normal January financial hangover look like chump change.
Faith, Hope and CharityIn order to achieve her goal, Tabitha will use her own tried and true method: bleed the suckers dry through a very worthwhile (and fake) charity.
She has set up the Have-a-Heart Foundation, a charity which claims to help disadvantaged people, build hospitals, distribute toys to homeless children and food to homeless families, airlift drugs and farming tools to third-world nations and anything else that Tabitha could dream up. Usually she works on a small scale, but Hazael has been writing glowing tributes to Have-a-Heart in his column. He also put her in touch with Jezreel who immediately saw the potential of Have-a-Heart and launched it with its own national campaign.
The ads pull at people's heartstrings and purse strings by trumpeting a few very splashy good deeds which Tabitha actually engineered. Plus, every time people give, they get a chance to win $100,000. It's the Publishers Clearinghouse of charities. The money thus raised is used to bribe government investigators to give Have-a-Heart a clean bill of health. Any inspectors who hold out are coerced in a less friendly way by the slew of demons and Soldiers working to support Christmas in July.
Right NowThe rest of the money goes to setting up a new credit card company called Right Now, Incorporated. Unlike Have-a-Heart, the Right Now card is real, but with such a (literally) diabolical contract that it siphons away money while it promotes more spending. The higher the balance, the lower the interest payment, but the card holder must charge up the balance each month in order to get low interest for that month. Deep in the fine print Tabitha has buried penalties for prompt payment, a zero balance, or canceling an account. It's the perfect card for people who are into instant gratification. It also offers ten percent off at any store which has joined in the Christmas in July campaign.
And They're Off!
Jezreel and the Public Relations MachineAs the main organizer of this plot, Jezreel will be directing Rex and Lola as well as selling both of Tabitha's going concerns. Her files at Brown & Samuels have almost every detail of the campaign, including the planned duration. Jezreel has solid outlines for July and August, and projections that extend into the next year. Her records will look innocuous to any casual observer, but just in case, she keeps them locked in her office at Brown & Samuels.
She will be present at most of the commercial shoots for Blumenfield's and promotional appearances by Rex and Lola. She will also be consulting with Tabitha at the offices of Have-a-Heart and Right Now, Incorporated.
JehozabadThe Shedite will by busy planting rumors that Nybbas' campaign is an angelic hoax. It may blow the PCs' cover to an angel just to make its story sound good. If it comes upon any demonstrators religious groups that are against Christmas in July it will try to create a mob mentality and goad the crowd into violent confrontation. It doesn't care who it sets against who, just that it leaves fighting in its wake.
HazaelHe will be running around the country, firing off columns from his laptop. His writing will eulogize the early Christmas movement and all stores which support it, while accusing its detractors of being selfish and un-American. He will also plug Have-a-Heart, giving the address where to send donations in every column.
The ManNybbas is being very hands-on with this campaign. He will occasionally show up at Brown & Samuels to talk with Jezreel, where he will be distinguishable by his bad suit and his glasses, which seem to reflect TV screens at all times. He may appear briefly at random promotional events to monitor the audience's interest level. "It's all in the demographics, baby!"
The PlayersThe demon player-characters have an opportunity to cause major havoc by backing Nybbas' idea. How many people would go postal if they heard Jingle Bells every day for six months? The general opinion amongst the Princes is that at the very least, this will irritate the Host, and at best it might cause the bloodiest religious war in history. Servitors of Nybbas and Malphas will be in on the plan from the beginning; others may join in as they discover what's happening. Even Asmodeus approves, mostly because it will keep Earthside demons busy and out of mischief (the wrong kind of mischief, that is).
The real problem for demons will be putting up with all of the good cheer. Fake or not, tidings of comfort and joy make greed more palatable for humans, but the diabolicals (except for the Balseraphs) will have to grit their teeth and avoid television if they want to stay sane. How many demons would go postal if they heard Joy to the World every day for six months?
Christmas in JulyJezreel has carefully orchestrated all of the elements of the campaign to launch at precisely the right time. She has commercials aimed at the entire demographic spread, TV shows, appearances, tree-lighting ceremonies, books, talk show bookings; anything a good Servitor of the Media can think up.
Except for the first one on the fourth of July, the tree-lighting ceremonies may take place anywhere the GM decides to put them, although Jezreel would never schedule one in some one-horse town. They should be held in an urban setting.
July 1st: Commercials aimed at adults begin airing, starring Rex and Lola. Simultaneously, Jezreel has arranged reruns of all the classic children's holiday specials, one a day for the next month, interspersed with commercials promoting Have-a-Heart and the Right Now card.
July 4th: Rex, Lola and Jezreel will be on hand for the first tree-lighting ceremony outside of the Blumenfield's in Los Angeles. They will light 100 palm trees with red, white and blue lights, then set off fireworks and sign autographs. Nybbas will drop by to admire his work.
July 8th: An original cartoon series, created especially to sell Christmas in July and lots of toys, will premier. Blumenfield's commercials with tie-ins to the cartoon will also premier. "The Miracle of Christmas in July" articles start running in the tabloids.
July 11th & 12th: Tree-lighting ceremonies
July 17th: Scheduled debut of a pop-theological book called 365 Days of Christmas. It is schmaltzy drivel about feeling the spirit of Christmas every day, with not one genuine sentiment in the whole book. If not blocked or discredited, it will immediately go on the bestseller list.
July 18th & 19th: Tree-lighting ceremonies
July 20th-24th: Jezreel plans to shoot more commercials in New York and Florida.
July 25th & 26th: Tree-lighting ceremonies
July 31st: If Christmas in July is still generating money, Les Caldwell will go on TV and thank his loyal clients, inducing other stores to follow suit.
August 1st: Christmas goes to Japan.
Location, Location, LocationThis adventure is based on a national (potentially international) campaign which is supported by four Princes -- Nybbas, Malphas, Andrealphus and Mammon -- and encouraged by all of the others except Saminga, who couldn't care less. The game may be played out in one location, or the PC's may travel to different places and still be involved. Christmas in July is ubiquitous.
If Christmas in July lasts until August in the United States, Nybbas will import it to Japan, one of Rex's favorite places. If his plan folds in the U.S. he won't bother to expand into new territories.
The Next EpisodeNext week, tune in for the next exciting adventure of A Very Nybbas Christmas. Will Nybbas succeed, or will the harp-plucking feather dusters send him packing? Find out in A Very Nybbas Christmas, Part II: The Bright Side.
Article publication date: June 5, 1998
Copyright © 1998 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 email@example.com.