Corporeal Player's Guide Designer's Notes

Designer's Notes: Corporeal Player's Guide

by David Edelstein

Cover Art by Steve Gardner

When I first started writing for In Nomine, it was in the middle of finishing my Master's thesis project, while teaching high school full time. As I finished the Corporeal Player's Guide, it was in the middle of getting married, while teaching at a university full time. Certainly, writing for In Nomine has been a lot more fun than those other things. (Don't misunderstand -- being married is absolutely wonderful. I could have done without all the photo shoots and tuxedo-fittings and the like, though . . .) But it's a hobby, something I do for fun, and which happens to provide me with a supplement to my income. I'm not sure how much this sets me apart from professional game writers, who do this for a living. But I did feel a bit intimidated, at first, being asked to write an entire book for In Nomine line, the first book to be written by a single author since Derek Pearcy wrote the original rulebook. It's a large chunk of the In Nomine universe I'm writing . . . and my first-draft deadline was exactly one week before my wedding.

The purpose of the Corporeal Player's Guide is to make human characters viable and interesting in In Nomine, something that's not that easy in a game where most PCs are angels and demons with vast supernatural abilities. In order to do this, I took the position that while individual humans may not be very powerful, humanity as a whole is. One of my clearest mandates was that In Nomine shall not become a game of human puppets manipulated by powerful unseen forces. So while a celestial can usually push around a single human with ease, Heaven and Hell find it surprisingly difficult to push large groups of people anywhere.

Corporeal Player's Guide Designer's Notes One thing that I hate, when I buy an RPG supplement, is to find that it's full of the author's musings on how to play the game, and maybe some sample characters and new artifacts which I could probably write myself. I like supplements that are packed full of stuff; new rules, new character types, new resources and plot seeds, things I can use right "out of the box." I tried to do that with the CPG; I wanted it to be a book players and GMs would both consider a must-have.

Discords, Attunements, and character types from several books are now collected in one place (and I got to fix the drug rules so that six cups of coffee will no longer turn you into Spider Man). Soldiers and undead, touched upon in the basic rulebook and expanded somewhat in Night Music, are described in great detail now, as are Saints (from Night Music), and sorcerers (from The Marches). The Sorcery rules from The Marches, which were frankly a bit incoherent and formulaic, have been greatly revised. Sorcery is now distinct from Enchantment, which is the art of imbuing corporeal objects with Symphonic powers. This includes alchemy, necromancy (now you don't have to be a Servitor of Saminga to make Zombis), and making artifacts and golems.

You will also find rules for human souls in Heaven and Hell, ghosts, Dream Shades (ghosts bound to the ethereal rather than the corporeal plane), Dream Soldiers, Pagan Soldiers (who serve ethereal deities), "rogues" (exceptional humans who haven't joined any side), prophets, mortal offspring of ethereals and celestials, and Remnants. One thing I wanted to present in detail was the Children of the Grigori and the Nephilim, but unfortunately Higher Powers ruled that they are to be reserved for a future supplement, and so you will find only a few tantalizing hints about them here.

The chapters on human agencies and humans in the War will be of the most use to GMs. How do celestials infiltrate an organization, and what organizations do they find worthwhile? How can humans credibly threaten celestials? And how can you run a humans-only or mixed humans-and-celestials campaign? Naturally, there are some sample organizations included, ranging from groups of Soldiers to sorcerous cabals.

I learned a lot in the playtesting of this book. The playtest discussions were often a bit heated, particularly over the sections on religion. (Surprise!) Religion, of course, couldn't possibly be done full justice in one chapter. The interesting thing about In Nomine is that there are so many different ways to play it . . . and so many people feel neglected if published materials don't cater sufficiently to their vision of the game. Striking a balance between trying to be all things to all people (and thus becoming hopelessly bland and generic), and pursuing one person's interpretation so narrowly that the setting becomes useless to anyone else, is not always easy. Some people want things explicitly stated about the nature of souls and the role and history of religion in In Nomine . . . others want these things to go untouched, so that individual GMs are free to develop their own ideas.

Of course, not all debates were about metaphysics . . . there were also disagreements between people who thought equipment lists, including high-tech gadgets, are a vital resource, and those who thought they're a waste of space. The equipment chapter ended up being fairly small, but you will find a few more weapons, including heavy weapons and explosives, security systems, and of course, revised rules for disease, poison, and drugs. What you will not find is a big list of guns. Nor will you find mundane hazards such as falling, freezing, vehicular collisions, starvation, and the like . . . threats to human characters, but too mundane for a game like In Nomine to make the final cut.

Finally, I'd like to note here that Kris Overstreet wrote a yet-unpublished article for Pyramid magazine that was the basis of the rules for ghosts in the CPG. Unfortunately, his name was left out of the credits in the first printing of the book, for which I would like to apologize.

Article publication date: May 28, 1999

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