A Very Nybbas Christmas
Part Two: The Bright Side
An In Nomine ResourceLast week on "A Very Nybbas Christmas," our hero, Nybbas, set a plan in motion to turn Christmas into the media holiday he's always wanted it to be. He enlisted the capable help of Jezreel, a Balseraph in the Role of an advertising executive, and his own son, Rex the Demon of Cool. They liberated the Blumenfield's account from their competition and began to create and air their brilliant "Christmas in July" commercials. Rex is featured prominently in these ads, as is the knockout redhead Lola, a Lilim of Lust who is, not coincidentally, Rex's current girlfriend. Unbeknownst to him, she has a hidden agenda: Andrealphus told her to stick close to Rex and get a Geas on him before the Christmas campaign is over.
by Alain H. Dawson
Art by Dan Smith
The dark, brooding Prince of Factions joined forces with our hero to further heighten interfaith tensions in our far too tolerant society. Malphas sent the Impudite Hazael to goad other retail companies into the Christmas Spirit using his nationally syndicated column as a forum. However, behind our hero's back Malphas unleashed Jehozabad with orders to convince other demons that Christmas in July is an angelic plot.
Tabitha, a Habbalite of Greed, entered into the Christmas Spirit by setting up a fake charity to separate humans from the corrupting influence of their money. She also created a credit card company which encourages constant spending and penalizes those trying to avoid debt.
Christmas in July debuted on the first of July, to the applause of critics everywhere! (For an instant replay, read "A Very Nybbas Christmas, Part One." Phase Two is now commencing: our hero and his collaborators must keep building the momentum until the entire nation is caught up in Christmas, either positively or (better yet) negatively. But, as always, there's a catch . . .
The GrinchesObviously, Nybbas cannot launch such a grandiose plan without heavenly interference. Unfortunately for him, the forces of good are close at hand. The advertising firm of Brown & Samuels is home not only to a demon, but to an alert Soldier of God with an even more alert angelic patron. If either of them catch a whiff of demonic activity they will try to shut it down. Failing that, they'll call in reinforcements.
Soldier of GodCorporeal Forces -- 2 Strength 4 Will 4
Ethereal Forces -- 2 Intelligence 6 Precision 2
Celestial Forces -- 2Will 3 Perception 5
Skills: Computer Operation/3, Dodge/1, Drive/2, Knowledge (Advertising/2), Language (Korean/4)
Songs: Healing (Corporeal/3), Shields (Corporeal/3)
Marcel is a first-generation American from a Eurasian family. His parents raised him to strive for two things; faith and success. His faith is decidedly Catholic, and his success is coming along nicely. He is the first person in his family to graduate from college (on a full scholarship), and from there he went to work for Brown & Samuels.
At work he made the acquaintance of Deborah, a Servitor of Marc and a client of the firm. She was struck by his kindness and honesty, rare qualities in the advertising business, and recently recruited him. He is happy with his position in the War, considering it to fill the criteria both for success and faith.
Marcel is a personable young man, handsome in a collegiate way, and painfully earnest. His style of dress is pure yuppie. He lives in a tiny apartment in Manhattan.
He has no idea that Jessica Meyers is the demon Jezreel, but she does rub him the wrong way. He dislikes her way of selling and doing business and he would be happy to put her out of commission.
When he hears of the Christmas in July campaign he is deeply offended and suspicious. He thinks that Something Must Be Done about this bastardization of his religion and he pleads with his angelic superior to put a stop to it.
Elohite Vassal of TradeCorporeal Forces -- 3 Strength 3 Agility 9
Ethereal Forces -- 4 Intelligence 8 Precision 8
Celestial Forces -- 3 Will 4 Perception 8
Role: Entrepreneur/4, Status/4
Skills: Computer Operation/4, Driving/2, Dodge/3, Fast-Talk/3, Knowledge (Business Management/5), Language (Japanese/3)
Songs: Harmony (Ethereal/4), Healing (Corporeal/3, Ethereal/2), Tongues (Corporeal/3, Ethereal/4)
Attunements: Elohite of Trade, Vassal of Trade, Divine Contract, Head of a PIN
Deborah is a young angel, quite at home in the modern world of finance. As an Elohite, she finds the logic of numbers more to her liking than the erratic humans behind them, but she enjoys the added challenge that emotions bring to doing business. They are a variable, affecting business transactions the way luck affects poker.
On Earth she acts as a white knight, bailing out or protecting companies which Marc feels are deserving. Underdogs are glad to see her, empire-builders wish that she would fall off the face of the planet.
She is fond of Marcel, considering him to be her discovery, but she tends to patronize him. She thinks his point of view is too narrow, chalking it up to inexperience and not being able to see the Symphony for the notes. However, she does try to accommodate his requests so as not to discourage him and ruin his impressive zeal for his job as a Soldier.
Passing the BuckMarcel has hounded Deborah relentlessly to interfere with Christmas in July. He has no proof that it is a demonic plot, he simply believes that it is injurious to the sanctity of Christmas and must therefore be terminated. Since he doesn't have anywhere near the seniority to block Jezreel, he has requested that Deborah speak to Marc about it.
However, Marc welcomed the Christmas in July idea as a way to lift the retail market out of its summer doldrums. Upon hearing this, Marcel still refused to drop the subject. To keep him happy, Deborah agreed to tell some of her friends who might be interested in sparing Christianity the embarrassment of Christmas in July.
Malakite Servitor of the SwordCorporeal Forces -- 4 Strength 10 Agility 6
Ethereal Forces -- 2 Intelligence 4 Precision 4
Celestial Forces -- 3 Will 8 Perception 4
Vessel: Human/4, Dog/2
Skills: Dodge/3, Fighting/3, Large Weapon (Sword/2), Tactics/2
Songs: Numinous Corpus (Claws/2), Thunder (Corporeal/3)
Attunements: Malakite of the Sword, Hunt, Holy Fortitude
Jehoiakim is one of the more fervent supporters of Christianity in Laurence's ranks. He firmly believes that the key to the Symphony is getting all of humanity thinking in one direction, and if Laurence thinks that Christianity is a good direction, who would he be to argue.
Along with his single-minded devotion, he is notoriously devoid of a sense of humor. He sees nothing amusing about Christmas in July. In fact, he dislikes any secularization of Christmas because it is part of the core of Christian belief.
Jehoiakim is one of those angels who doesn't spend much time on Earth because he takes everything too seriously. His faux pas potential is astronomical. Laurence uses him for specific, dangerous assignments and then calls him back to Heaven. However, Jehoiakim has earned some autonomy and he is happy to respond to Deborah's request. He is eager for any opportunity to strike a blow for his favorite religion.
And He Told Two Friends . . .After scoping out the problem, Jehoiakim decides that he can't handle the enormity of Christmas in July by himself. Because of the national scope of the advertising campaign, he has enlisted the help of two of his comrades. He knows that he is in over his head, and that his suspicions are unproven. Without further evidence he doesn't want to ask Laurence for help, but like Marcel he smells a rat and he refuses to drop his investigation. He has asked angels of a more subtle persuasion than himself to confirm his fears before he voices them to a higher authority.
Seraph Vassal of the SwordCorporeal Forces -- 3 Strength 5 Agility 7
Ethereal Forces -- 4 Intelligence 7 Precision 9
Celestial Forces -- 4 Will 8 Perception 8
Skills: Acrobatics/2, Detect Lies/4, Dodge/4, Fighting/3, Large Weapon (Sword/6), Tracking/4, Savior-Faire/1, Emote/1
Songs: Harmony (Ethereal/3), Healing (Corporeal/2, Ethereal/3, Celestial/3), Light (Celestial/4)
Artifact: Fiery Sword/3
Attunements: Seraph of the Sword, Vassal of the Sword, The Blade Blessing of Laurence, Scabbard, Purity of Purpose
Mishael is an investigator par excellence. She is a diplomat by nature, but once she has enough evidence to indicate a course of action, she acts without hesitation. She is the embodiment of the phrase "cooler heads shall prevail."
Laurence entrusts her with assignments in which the truth is obscure and subtlety is required, but she is no spy. All of her investigations take place in the open, however she has no compunctions about telling people only what they need to know. In fact, Mishael prefers to listen rather than talk, and more than one person has made the mistake of forgetting she was around.
In combat, no one forgets about Mishael. Demons have been known to flee at the sight of her ruthless expression, illuminated by the dangerous flames of her sword. Despite her abilities, she prefers to avoid violence unless she has no choice. When she has no choice, she fights to win.
She has had to babysit Jehoiakim in the past and she is fond of him in a motherly fashion. His simplistic world view refreshes her, although she finds him a bit too rambunctious. However, she does not patronize his extreme dedication and she is happy to help him with his current problem.
Ofanite Servitor of JudgmentCorporeal Forces -- 3 Strength 4 Agility 8
Ethereal Forces -- 3 Intelligence 6 Precision 6
Celestial Forces -- 4 Will 5 Perception 11
Vessel: Human/3, Horse/2
Skills: Acrobatics/3, Dodge/3, Driving/5, Escape/4, Knowledge (United States Geography/5), Tracking/3
Songs: Motion (Corporeal/3, Ethereal/2, Celestial/3), Light (Ethereal/4), Shields (Celestial/3)
Artifact: Stunt Cycle/4
Attunements: Ofanite of Judgment, Incarnate Law
Cruising the highways and byways of America, Azariah only slows down for one thing: Discord. She uses her Ofanite of Judgment attunement like a cop uses a radar gun, except she is moving and her targets are (usually) stationary. She likes big, crowded cities teeming with people, because the larger and denser the population, the more likely she is to find the shriek of Discord within it. As a Servitor of Dominic, angels are her main focus, but she certainly won't ignore any source of Discord she may stumble across.
Confrontation is not her style. When she discovers a Discordant being, she passes along the information to one of Dominic's servants more specialized in investigation. She earmarks potential problems so that Dominic can check them out in their early stages, but she never hangs around to find out what happens.
In person she looks petite, blonde and wiry, with a short, spiky haircut apparently styled by 100 mile an hour winds. She will occasionally manifest as a palomino quarter horse, but this is more for relaxation than pursuit.
Azariah is friendly with Mishael, the Servitor of Laurence having performed mop-up duty for her on more than one occasion. Azariah finds Mishael's stillness fascinating, but the urge to move on prevents her from becoming very close to the Seraph. They do touch base from time to time, and Mishael hopes that with some direction, the Ofanite might be useful in uncovering a diabolical presence amongst the Christmas in July team.
The Children's CrusadeChristopher doesn't care who is behind the Christmas media blitz, he just wants it stopped. The Christmas cartoon and the ads are targeting children's innocence and love of the holiday, twisting the youngsters' point of view until they can only be satisfied with toys.
The Archangel of Children has started fighting fire with fire. He has assigned a Soldier to take the battle to the enemy -- in other words, to go on TV.
Soldier of GodCorporeal Forces -- 2 Strength 4 Agility 4
Ethereal Forces -- 2 Intelligence 5 Precision 3
Celestial Forces -- 2 Will 3 Perception 5
Skills: Artistry (Script Writing/4), Drive/3, Knowledge (TV Production/3), Language (Spanish/4)
Songs: Healing (Corporeal/2)
Born in Nicaragua, Jose's family emigrated to the United States to avoid the fighting and bloodshed during the eighties. Adjusting to their newly adopted country proved to be difficult as they were overwhelmed by information, and often they wasted their little money on worthless junk that looked good on TV. His parents had never had so many choices before and their naivete often got them in trouble or cost them their hard-earned wages.
Jose learned to be cynical very early in life because of such experiences and focused his indignation at the huge media machine that controls America's information. He ended up majoring in communications at UCLA, driven by a desire to interject some truth and balance into the television medium.
Ahijah, a Mercurian of Children, first noticed Jose when he quit a lucrative children's show to protest against the producer's ethics. The angel was impressed by Jose's rapport with kids and knowledge of television production. He recruited Jose as a Soldier and with encouragement from Christopher, he found Jose another job; producing his own children's show for public television.
The show, Tell It Like It Is, began airing in June and immediately picked up a cult of approving critics, college students and parents, but more importantly, kids love it. At home with a shoestring budget, Jose uses great writing, curiosity and honesty to keep his audience interested. His topics range from scientific to social to religious, but his main message to his viewers is "think for yourself." He may do on-air consumer testing and deconstruct an advertisement so that kids can see the exaggeration in the ad's claims.
Sadly, like most public TV shows, Tell It Like It Is doesn't get the attention it deserves from mainstream viewers, but little by little it is gaining ground, helping a few more children think for themselves every day.
Christopher has sent word to Jose that the Christmas in July campaign is false and pernicious. Demons or no demons, he wants some kind of balance for the lure of the ads. Jose is to provide that balance, using his show to help kids separate the hype from the holiday.
Reactions UpstairsUpon receiving any serious proof of Christmas in July's demonic connection, Laurence and Dominic will act, sending down reinforcements for their Servitors already on the scene and authorizing them to recruit other angels to the cause.
Even if the angels don't find anything concrete, when Christmas in July turns into Christmas in August, Laurence will mobilize his available Earthly servants to combat this menace to Christianity.
On first inspection, Marc thought Christmas in July would benefit the economy and he will be slow to change his mind. It goes without saying that if he discovers Nybbas' hand manipulating the campaign he will have an abrupt change of opinion. If Jezreel's long-term plans are brought to light he will also take action to stop them. A brief rise in spending is good, but prolonged spending and debt can only hurt the economy and possibly trigger a recession. When he realizes that Christmas in July is not scheduled to end ever, he will stop thinking that it's a good idea.
Of all the Superiors, Marc has the best chance of combating Christmas in July effectively and quietly. Nybbas is waging a very public campaign, but it will die like a fish in the Sahara if no money comes rolling in. Marc and his angels can undermine Nybbas' whole plan by financial strangulation, but first they must be convinced that Christmas in July is detrimental to trade.
Christopher is unlikely to urge his Servitors into a direct confrontation with Nybbas' henchmen, but he will be very interested in damage control. Any way his angels can teach children about the true meaning of Christmas or how to resist the advertisements will be much appreciated. Better still, Christopher would like to see the Christmas cartoon and all its tie-ins bumped from syndication or sabotaged.
Les Caldwell, Blumenfield's CEO (see "A Very Nybbas Christmas, Part One." is only interested in getting his company into the black. He has no attachment to Jezreel's ad campaign, and he would be happy to try something else if he thinks it will work better or if Christmas in July bombs.
The PlayersAngel player-characters can get involved with Nybbas' plans several ways:
- Nybbas himself will show up at Brown & Samuels to consult with Jezreel, and may pop up at random during the commercial shoots and promotional appearances.
- Jezreel, Rex and Lola will be appearing around the country, performing tree-lighting ceremonies and promoting the Blumenfield's ad campaign.
- Either Marcel or the PCs could sneak a look at Jezreel's files.
- Servants of Dominic and Laurence will be told in no uncertain terms that they must prevent this perversion of the Christian faith.
- Their own superiors -- Christopher in particular -- may instruct them to put a stop to the advertisements.
- Any of the NPCs that are involved can call on a player-character for help.
- Jehozabad might try to possess a PC in an attempt to confuse and mislead other demons into thinking the angels are to blame for Christmas in July.
- The characters may have to defuse tensions between different religious groups who are incensed about the offensive Christmas campaign.
Even if they receive no orders, the characters will hardly be able to escape the ads, the Christmas muzak, the fake trees and reruns of "It's A Wonderful Life." Out of a regard for the sanctity of the holiday, a fear of interfaith turmoil, or perhaps in self-defense, the characters will have to do something if they want the elves and the "Ho-ho-ho"ing to go away.
Balancing the AdventureIn a demonic campaign, the angel NPCs should be played up, constantly nipping at the player-characters' heels. The angels serving Dominic and Laurence can call in hefty back-up if the PCs harass them, providing possible combat and face-to-face encounters. Servitors of Marc are more subtle: the demon PCs may not know someone is working against them until things start to go wrong.
Conversely, Jehozabad could convince the characters that the angels are behind this early Christmas, leading to mass confusion as they scheme against their own hellish brethren.
If the demon PCs get confused about their role in this adventure, there are plenty of high-level demon NPCs to give them a kick in the right direction.
In an angelic campaign, the balancing factor is the fact that the demons have a head start. They've been planning their moves for weeks and the player-characters will have to play catch-up. There are enough demon NPCs with enough agendas to keep any group of angels busy.
If the PCs are not very powerful the GM can clue them in to Nybbas' involvement before Christmas in July actually starts, giving them more time to stop it. If the characters are feeling overwhelmed, strengthen the angelic NPCs' support or provide some convenient back-up from an alert Superior.
HellspawnThe demonic goal is to prolong the fake Christmas season for as long as possible. Each week the characters help this goal should net them extra character points in addition to points awarded for individual gaming sessions. If Nybbas' plan makes it until August, the GM should give them another bonus.
In game terms, demons have plenty of opportunity for advancement if they prolong Christmas in July. Four Princes are heavily involved in this adventure, so good roleplaying should meet with fast rewards. If the demon PCs made a contribution above and beyond merely supporting Christmas in July, they could be in for an attunement or distinction. They can also make connections to some of Hell's high fliers, especially Rex, who isn't picky about his friends as long as they admire him.
If Christmas in July failed, the Princes will probably focus their wrath on the plot's organizers, letting off the little guys. However, important demons anxious to cover their butts will be looking for dupes and fall-guys, so the characters should make themselves scarce if they are smart.
If the PCs fell for Jehozabad's lies and interfered with Christmas in July, there won't be a hole deep enough to hide them from Nybbas. However, if they went after a real angel successfully they can parlay that achievement into a reward, even if they were suckered.
Heaven SentThe angels are trying to block the myriad facets of Christmas in July. They should get extra points for each branch of Nybbas' plan they shut down or cripple. This award should increase or decrease according to how much they disturbed the Symphony in pursuit of their goal.
Laurence, Marc and Christopher are the most likely Superiors to take notice of the PCs' successes, although if they did something spectacular their own Superiors will take note, even if they weren't on assignment.
If the characters were working on their own recognizance, failing to slow Nybbas' campaign will earn them neither reward nor censure. However, if their Superior gave them orders to stop Christmas in July and they failed, the PCs will have to explain what went wrong and may be punished.
In the event that Jehozabad took over one of the player-characters and incriminated him, the angel's Superior may have to investigate what happened before letting him off the hook. This could lead to a further adventure as the angels track down the Shedite and put an end to it.
Article publication date: June 12, 1998
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