Safe Houses

by Rob Wolff / Bodhi

In the espionage parlance, a "safe house" was one where an agent could "come in from the cold," and drop their cover, even if only for a few hours. It was a place that was hopefully unknown to the other side, and also a good spot to rendezvous with Superiors and other Agents, in order to get much needed information and equipment.

In In Nomine, Tethers seem to form this function quite nicely, although they are hardly "unknown to the other side."

However, here's a notion for an IN setting that we are toying with.

Between the Sides in the War, there is an Agreement (and no, don't think about "Good Omens"). The agreement is that Museums are off-limits to direct conflict between sides. Within the walls of Museums, both sides are free from repercussions, conflict, and immediate peril from their counter-parts.

Museums represent Man's views on his own past. Museums can celebrate the Truth, or a twisted representation of the Truth. Museums can paint a picture of the past that is representative of Reality, or they can paint the past through the skewed eyes of Myth and Legend.

Those who can not learn from the past may be doomed to repeat it, but most historians recognize that "The Past" is a relatively unknown quantity to us. Instead, what we have is a distillation of the past, as seen through the eyes of popular fiction and retrospect.

Thus, Yves and Kronos have a unique role with respect to Museums. They both see their best "work" represented in Museum displays, as well as their opponents successes hailed as well.

What is most especially frightening, however, is that sometimes the museum, while representing Man's view of His Past, unfortunately paints a picture that has forgotten which side "won" at the time. Our view of our past subtly changes with time. It doesn't always change the way Yves wants, and likewise for Kronos.

Take the conquest of North America. Over the past 20 years, the emphasis has changed from the" Glorious Conquest of the Untamed Land" to "The Selfish Exploitation of the Indigenous Peoples." Whereas 20 years ago, historians would never bother to represent the fact that most of our "conquests" came at the direct expense of other people who had their way of life stripped from them, Museums today make an effort to remind us that our own Past comes at the expense of somebody else's heritage.

Another example that a Prof. of History friend of mine always hauls out at parties is the way museums have changed our impressions of War. Immediately following World War II, museums would represent the American Participation in that War as "the be-all and end-all." After all, most Americans knew that they'd "gone over there and won the war for everybody." Today, museums are far more conservative in their depiction of the American participation, and pay more attention to the entire effort by all the allied sides. They also tend to emphasize how many people were killed on both sides, and attempt to remove some of the "glory" from their depictions.

One final example about history and perception. In Canada, I always learned that the War of 1812 was a situation in which the Americans, upon seeing that England was busy elsewhere (France, Napoleon, etc.), decided that now was the right time to strike, and annex Canada. The Canadian Colonists, being for the most part without a standing army and military support, nevertheless mustered all they could (including a quite considerable fighting force of metis and native personnel), and managed to hold off the American aggressors. They even went to so far as to make forays into the United States, and captured Washington, burning the city (but not destroying it). Knowing that they were outnumbered, and essentially fighting an outnumbered war of Defense, the Canadian forces retreated. Eventually, the Americans gave up their aggressive stance, and withdrew their efforts.

However, I have met many Americans who have a different view of this war. They talk about "winning the war of 1812", and "defeating the British." They also talk about "winning back Washington," and so on.

Please, this is an illustrative example. I make no comment on the validity of either interpretation.

However, it does show that one's perception of the past is highly personal, as well as highly instructive.

Thus, museums represent a kind of "running score-card" for humanity. They offer Celestials and Diabolicals a chance to see how well some of their greatest accomplishments are remembered. As well, it gives them a chance to reminisce, and perhaps complain a little bit about how nobody remembers how it "really was." Let's face it, sometimes, in a world in which these ephemeral mortals live and die in such a ridiculously short span of time, you have far more in common with the Other Side than you do with mortals.

As well, museums offer a chance to show how well your side is doing. Do they depict the atrocities of war, or merely glorify them as heroic accomplishments, forgetting that hundreds of thousands of people died? Do they depict accurate information, or popular legend? While most Historians will argue that we can never really know what the past entails, do museums right now at least do a credible job of portraying our past, or are they subject to Diabolical Interference to such an extent that they've lost their credible position?

Therefore, no action may be taken within the walls of a museum. Museums, which are usually nice and centrally located, could represent "Sanctuary."

It could be nice. Imagine two attractive 'men' in trenchcoats, feeding the birds by the museum's pond, discussing old times, poking fun at each other, trying to figure out who is winning, maybe not even really caring anymore. Old Enemies, Old Friends. It's kind of an overly romanticized version of the Cold War, but we like that sort of stuff. Malakites need not visit the pond... but there must be some friendships between members of both sides out there.

It is by no means an absolute necessity that you include Safe Houses in your campaign, but we like this perspective. It generates wonderful role-playing possibilities, and yet somehow we feel justified in their existence. Museums hold a special status, both due to their nature and by the tacit agreement of Yves and Kronos.




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