Would you want to be a polar bear in Texas during the summer, free to do nothing but stare with thinly veiled contempt at the corpulent humans around your tiny wading pool?
by Matthew Rossi
Art by Dan Smith
Free the bear.
Revelations I: Night Music, p. 104
This is a short adventure for the In Nomine game, intended for use with two to four players, possibly beginning a campaign. This story ranges from Texas to Rhode Island, and will be easiest to involve players who A) either care themselves about animals or who play Angels who would, or B) are Servitors of Jordi, who will then ask them to get involved, in that delightful way Archangels have of asking for things. This game could also be played by Soldiers of God or Saints with little variation, other than adjusting the level of the opposition.
BackgroundThis all started with the San Antonio Zoo.
Jordi, having had enough of the cruelties inherent in the polar bear exhibit, asked a favored servant of his to free it. Rior'n Gar, or Ranger nowadays, was more than happy to oblige his Archangel, and within days of the request, he'd managed to steal a refrigerated truck, kidnap a veterinarian, and talk a group of buddies he'd made from all over the U.S. into assisting him with the Great Bear Robbery, as he'd begun to refer to it. (Feel free to run this if you'd like. If not, it will just be assumed that the players met Ranger at that time, and were along for the ride.)
After successfully stealing the bear from the zoo, Ranger then had to run a gauntlet of various police agencies in order to get the bear to Austin, whereupon he managed to give the bear to Soldiers of God in the direct service of Jordi, who planned to smuggle it back north in a few days. Feeling rather grateful, he then took the various celestials who'd helped him with his caper out for a solid three days of partying (those that were up for it) and otherwise expressed his gratitude. Then he was off, to do Jordi's bidding again.
This time, however, things didn't go nearly as well. Ranger was sent to Rhode Island, a state teeming with far more celestial activity than it needs, to free a family of wolves from the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Jordi was concerned with rumors that the local zookeepers were tormenting the animals, and wanted to stop it. Ranger was just up for another wild ride.
That was the last time anyone heard from him. In the past two weeks, Jordi has tried to find him, but as yet cannot. His Heart still exists, but has gone cold and unfocused, and the Archangel is angry. Jordi wants his servant back, Jordi wants those wolves freed, and Jordi wants to know who had the nerve to tamper with either of those orders.
Enter the players again: at this point, they already know and like Ranger, so it shouldn't be that hard to get them involved. Servitors of Jordi will, of course, be asked to help their Superior out. Servitors of other Archangels will be a little tricker, of course . . . Yves and Novalis won't have a problem with their servants aiding Jordi, and as almost no other Archangels are hostile towards the Archangel of Animals, it's not hard to justify almost any Angelic help on the grounds of "attempting to sway Jordi to my way of thinking."
What Really Happened to RangerRanger made the mistake of waltzing into Rhode Island without scouting out the area first. Currently, the entire state is in the middle of a Celestial War between three factions. These factions are:
The Children of Narcolepsy. A group of demons who serve Fleurity, the Children are a recent dot on the map. They hold the west side of Providence, but most of their power comes from the burgeoning drug corridor along Rt. 95, rolling right through the heart of the state. Central Falls and Falls River, MA are also favorite places to stop and regain some Essence while also doing some business with their mortal connections.
The Triad. Three Word-Bound angels, working in concert to maintain the status quo. Providence was originally named for God himself, and various demons would find it an amusing slap in the face to drag the environment down to their level. The Triad is determined to prevent that. They like to work behind the scenes, controlling the local politicians, heads of various agencies, and even a few organized crime figures.
Typhonioi. These demons come from various masters, but their current leader is Arandal, a Baron of Dark Humor. Most of the Typhonioi prefer vessels that are hideously deformed by human standards, and they take their name from an old, probably dead monster of legend.
Ranger had no way of knowing, when he got to the zoo, that there were so many Celestials in Rhode Island: Neither the Children of Narcolepsy nor the Typhonioi know anything about the other, and the Triad is only peripherally aware of either group. Also, none of them are particularly close to Jordi. When Ranger arrived at the zoo, he spotted Mareth, a Balseraph in service to Valfeor. And unfortunately for him, he got a six on his Check Digit roll, immediately determining that Mareth was a Balseraph. Ranger attacked, and no doubt would have killed Mareth, had not the zoo's security staff, recently Oathtaken Soldiers of Hell bound to Vapula, interfered. Confronted with seven Soldiers of Hell and a Balseraph, Ranger was convinced that the entire zoo was an Infernal Tether (it's not, but you can forgive him for making the mistake), and he tried to escape without killing the Soldiers, fearing the disturbance that would make in the Symphony.
He didn't make it. The combined efforts of the Soldiers, Mareth, and his Calabite buddy Harissa, managed to beat Ranger into unconsciousness. (Harissa was attracted to the fight by the noise just hurting the Soldiers made in the Symphony.) Then Mareth asked Arandal, an old friend of his, for the Dog Collar, an artifact that the Typhonioi often used to punish recalcitrant demons by cutting them temporarily off from the Symphony. Arandal liked the joke.
Ranger is currently trapped in the body of a dog, and is only able to access 5 forces (3 Corporeal, 2 Ethereal) but he is not truly a Remnant. If the players can find him, they can free him from the Collar, allowing him to regain access to his true, celestial nature. Which will mean that a pissed-off Malakite will be gunning for Mareth and Harissa . . .
The Road to Rhody
Prelude -- The Great Bear RobberySeveral techniques are possible here: recommended is an in media res approach, basically just slapping the players down inside the cab of the truck along with Ranger or in back with the bear and Dr. Maria Estancia, the vet Ranger "persuaded" to come along for the ride.
The truck is ten minutes south of Austin when several Texas Rangers catch up with them. They'll immediately begin ordering it to pull over, firing warning shots, and if that doesn't being them results, aiming for the tires. (Use the Soldier of Hell stats at the end of this adventure, minus their second Celestial Force.)
Ranger is up for suggestions. His plan is to step on the gas as hard as he can and hope to out-drive the cops. (Truth be told, he's kind of enjoying this.) He'll only insist that the players try not to hurt the policemen. ("They're just doing their jobs as best they can figure out. Not their fault their brains've been rotted out of their heads by TV.")
Assuming the players come up with a non-lethal way to escape the police, Ranger will eventually stop the truck along a secluded street in the area of St. Edwards University. Unless the players can somehow help, he'll totally forget to make sure that Dr. Estancia can't make a commotion, which will summon a security car making its rounds. (One way to prevent this is to convince Dr. Estancia, who loves animals, that this is best for the bear. Make the players roleplay that out.) Assuming someone reminds Ranger or takes the initiative, he'll unload the bear and attempt to convince it to come with him up the sidewalk and into a nearby house. However, the bear is hot, cranky, motion sick and not in the mood, and will attempt to escape unless (yet again) the players intercede in some way.
Once the bear is convinced to play along, Ranger will lead it up the sidewalk and through the front door of a large gray house. There's a sign on the wall next to the door that reads "Morrison Animal Shelter." Inside are waiting Evelyn and Steve Washington, a friendly African-American couple in their sixties. Both of them are Soldiers working directly for Jordi, with connections to half a dozen animal rights organizations. They'll explain that they have contacts who can smuggle the bear out of Texas and back to the Arctic. For now, they've got the backyard kennel set up as a makeshift habitat, cooled to freezing and emptied of all other animal life.
Ranger, exhausted and jubilant, will then offer to take the players out on the town. GM's who own Night Music can run a series of encounters in Austin, or just skip ahead to Jordi contacting the players after Ranger's disappearance.
When the players arrive in Rhode Island (Since they're probably angels, it is assumed that this isn't that big a problem for them. If it is, Jordi will get them there somehow.) they'll probably want to go directly to the zoo. Once they get there, if any Kyriotate attempts to take an animal vessel, inform them that there are no free animals of any kind in the park . . . a very unnatural state of affairs. The zoo's animals are all terrified of any celestial, as their only experience with them has been with servants of Kobal or Vapula. In short, the zoo is well on its way to becoming an Infernal Tether. While this isn't an easy thing for even Celestials to just notice, they will be able to tell how small, shabby and ill-kept the place is. Also, several of the zoo keepers are armed.
Exploring the zoo will just be more depressing. Each cage is full of animals who look mangy, ill-fed and anxious. Any Servitor of Jordi will hear horror stories from any animal he is capable of questioning. Eventually, after circling the zoo once, they'll spot the Wolf Habitat, tucked away in the back of the place behind a large brass statue of a golden retriever.
The wolves are every bit as ill-fed, tremulous and panicky as the other animals. But, unlike the other animals, the wolves witnessed the fight between Ranger and the Demons and Soldiers. There are various ways to get this information from them . . . the Ethereal Song of Tongues, or one of the angels being a Malakite of Jordi, or whatever else it takes. Also, the handler of these animals, Davis Wilcott, is a Soldier of Hell who took part in that fight. He will be eying the players, his right arm in a cast and his face beaten up badly, trying to decide who they are and what to do about them.
If the players just attack Wilcott or use Songs indiscriminately, they have a chance of alerting the other six Soldiers of Hell who work in the park, as well as Mareth and Harissa. However, if they can pass themselves off as demons, they can convince him to tell them what happened. (There are a number of other options . . . let them explore them.) If it turns into a melee, the other Soldiers will be there to back up Wilcott in two minutes -- which might be two minutes too late to stop the players from learning what happened.
If the players do convince Wilcott that they're new demons from out of town, he'll happily tell them all he knows about the local celestial scene. He's very aware of the Typhonioi, and has heard a few rumors about the Children of Narcolepsy. He's completely uninformed of things on the angelic side of the street, other than what every Soldier of Hell learns about them. He'll also tell them all about Ranger's humiliation at the demons' hands ("I usually don't get you guys' jokes, but this one . . . it was really funny!") and explain his own role in it.
After learning what happened to Ranger, the players will still have to find him, a task complicated by the fact that Mareth and Harissa let him loose in the park in order to stalk him at their leisure. Searching the park will lead the players to one of three possible locations where Ranger could be, at the GM's choice.
The Temple of MusicOn the banks of the fake pond that dominates the center of the park, this pseudo-Grecian temple squats surrounded by a marshy shore. The park was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, and the Temple is just one of many examples of a deviation from his plans. Made out of whitewashed cement, it is crudely wired for sound and lighting. However, despite all that, the Temple is one of the most popular sites in the park, and it is fairly close to the zoo's western entrance. Servitors of Eli might like it, and it is one of the few sites in the park untainted by the Infernal.
Betsy Ross' HouseSupposedly connected to the Betsy Ross who sewed the first American flag (The staff of the house itself is fairly unclear as to just how they are connected), this house is near to the zoo as well, on the eastern side. There are large bushes and trees surrounding it, making it a good hiding place.
Lafayette's StatueCommissioned to commemorate the French General's visit to the state during the Revolutionary War, the statue is in the wildest part of the park, where small animals and the occasional wild cat or dog have been known to make themselves at home. The statue isn't particularly well kept. The area is also a know make-out spot for local teenagers.
Finding RangerIt will probably be easier for the players to find either Mareth or Harissa than it will be for them to find Ranger, who currently is as mundane a dog as ever was. (It is this very problem that has kept Ranger out of the demons' hands these past few weeks.) Mareth, who had been enjoying his little joke of stealing Ranger's identity, is now frustrated that a damn dog has been evading him all week, and he's using his Song of Charm on every dog he sees. Harissa, for her part, has been absolutely useless for finding the Malakite . . . she has the Tracking skill, but even transformed, Ranger knows it better. The players may stumble upon them beating the bushes in search of Ranger and attack, especially if they already know their role in his predicament.
However, Ranger hasn't forgotten his objective, either. Despite the haze that's keeping him from using his full abilities, in the base of his doggie brain he knows that he has to free the wolves. Thus, he's been keeping an eye on them . . . and so he'll probably be there when the players arrive. At first he'll run off, confused and scared by his inability to remember exactly who they are, but he'll definitely decide to keep his eyes on them. They may notice him following them, or perhaps even have gained the information from Wilcott without violence and free him from the Collar then and there. If they do, he'll want to go find Mareth and Harissa, and then free the wolves as he'd originally intended.
To Be Continued?Afterwards, the players will have several options. Depending on how they acted in the zoo, they may or may not know about the situation in Providence. They will definitely have an angry Malakite on their hands, and he'll be agitating to just set all the zoo animals free and burn the damn thing to the ground. A persuasive PC will probably be able to talk him out of that . . . but there's no way he'll leave without freeing at least the wolves. The players will definitely have the gratitude of Jordi if they save Ranger and free the wolves. From there, the players can either depart or decide to investigate the situation in the city.
Davis Wilcott(Use his stats for the other Soldiers of Hell)
Corporeal Forces -- 2 Strength 3 Agility 5
Ethereal Forces -- 2 Intelligence 6 Precision 2
Celestial Forces -- 2 Will 1 Perception 7
Status -- 1
Skills -- Knowledge (Animal Tending/4, Angels/2), Ranged Weapons/2(.44 Revolver), Small Weapon/3(club)
Weapons -- Club, .44 Revolver (On Belt)
Notes -- Wilcott is a normally pleasant man whose recently had the crap kicked out of him, and who isn't feeling very well. He'll attempt to be nice to the players unless he suspects what they are or they make it too difficult.
Mareth, Balseraph Knight of TheftCorporeal Forces -- 3 Strength 4 Agility 8
Ethereal Forces -- 3 Intelligence 8 Precision 4
Celestial Forces -- 4 Will 8 Perception 8
Vessel -- Human/3
Skills -- Emote/4, Fast Talk/6, Move Silently/4, Dodge/3
Songs -- Charm (Corporeal/4, Ethereal/4), Entropy (Ethereal/4, Celestial/4)
Attunements -- Balseraph of Theft, Passage, Knight of Kleptos.
Mareth is one of those people who just can't stop trying to out clever himself. His vessel resembles the actor James Spader.
Harissa, Calabite Servitor of Dark HumorCorporeal Forces -- 5 Strength 10 Agility 10
Ethereal Forces -- 2 Intelligence 3 Precision 5
Celestial Forces -- 3 Will 7 Perception 5
Vessel -- Human/2
Skills -- Fighting/6, Small Weapon/2(specialty), Tracking/4
Songs -- Entropy (Celestial/4), Form (Corporeal/4), Motion (Corporeal/5), Thunder/4
Attunements -- Calabite of Dark Humor, Prank
Discord -- Aura/2, Obsessed/2 (Knock Knock Jokes)
Harissa is bubbly, cute, fun, and completely unlike any other Calabite you've ever met. She's also an annoying air head who just can't stop telling knock knock jokes, and she's a lot stronger than you'd think. Her vessel is five feet tall, with short blond hair and a love for colorful t-shirts.
Ranger (Rior'n Gar), Malakite Master of AnimalsCorporeal Forces -- 6 Strength 12 Agility 12
Ethereal Forces -- 3 Intelligence 6 Precision 6
Celestial Forces -- 4 Will 10 Perception 6
Vessel -- Wolf/5
Skills -- Fighting/6, Large Weapon/5(Sword), Small Weapon/5(Knife), Ranged Weapon/3(Longbow), Tracking/5
Songs -- Attraction (Corporeal/6), Form (Corporeal/5, (Ethereal/4), Harmony (Corporeal/4, Celestial/4), Possession/4, Shields (Celestial/6), Thunder/5
Artifact -- Fiery Sword (Currently in Harissa's possession)
Malakite Oaths: (i) Never suffer an evil to live if it's his choice. (ii) Never surrender or allow himself to be captured by the armies of Hell. (iii) Never leave a buddy hanging. (iv) Never leave a job undone. (v) Never forgive an insult. (vi) Never let himself forget his mistakes.
Normally a fun-loving guy (for a Malakite), he is currently trapped in the body of a dog with Corporeal Forces 3 (Strength 6, Agility 6) and Ethereal Forces 2 (Intelligence 2, Precision 6)
Artifact -- The Dog CollarProbably created by Kobal itself, the Dog Collar is a celestial artifact which affects the wearer. When placed on someone, he must roll a Contest of his Celestial Forces versus the Collar's target number of 10) -- If they lose, they are transformed into a dog, and must use the rules for Remnants, save that their Hearts are not destroyed. (The Heart is still useless for finding the victim, however.) The Collar uses 5 Essence every time it is used, which must be resupplied by a willing celestial in order to use it again. If the Collar is removed, the target changes back, but the victim cannot remove the Collar himself.
Article publication date: April 2, 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.