So You've Done Everything Else

By Beth McCoy


So your characters have done everything... They've gone to the Lower Hells, they've been to the Far Marches at least a dozen times, they've explored more places Man Was Not Meant To Know (And Celestials Probably Shouldn't Be There Either) than you can recall.

But have they been to the Higher Heavens? And come back?

(Then again, if they've done all that, the GM might be sick of the characters and not want them to come back...)

Okay, first you need some Big Disaster. You know, an Infernal Intervention as the PCs try to shut down some Vapulan Doomsday Device. (Or a Divine one, if you're running demonic PCs. On the other hand, this one really doesn't work so well if you're running demons. Anyway.) It should be big. The sun is about to explode. The Earth is about to be wracked with volcanoes. Nearby comets have just been attracted to the Earth in droves. You know. Big stuff.

If your PCs have already been everywhere else, they're probably big enough by now that they're stuck with disarming Vapulan Doomsday Devices these days.

And dealing with the fallout when they botch it.

Well, whatever happened, it didn't just affect the corporeal realm; it altered all the realms. Sort of squished them closer together. This has some negative effects just from letting ethereal critters (including the odd stray dreamscape...) wander around Earth. But then a manticore goes bounding up the celestial side of Blandine's Tower, before being chased away! Um. Oops.

Now, while the Guards around the walls of Heaven are actually getting a bit of a work-out, this isn't the sort of thing that the Seraphim Council wants to encourage. Now, who's both powerful enough to be useful, and in enough disfavor (say, from botching the defusing of the VDD?) to stick with a tough job that they might not come back from?

Be sure to smirk at your players when you say this.

Now, for whatever enigmatic reasons you care to come up with, it has been determined that someone needs to go to... the Higher Heavens. This is, Yves and Jean have determined, possible again -- sort of -- due to the compressed nature of the Symphony at the moment. But note that "sort of," above. See, the Archangels can't go themselves. (Laurence is very disapponted by this.) The Symphony up there would reject them. But non-Superior celestials (much like relievers on Earth) can be snuck up there...

Once there, they're supposed to make contact with someone who isn't busy holding up the stars or something, and see if anyone up there can do a little Symphonic retuning...

Are there any . . . volunteers? (If the PCs don't volunteer right now, then bust them back to herding sheep in the outback.)

The "volunteers" are handed over to Yves, given a McGuffin each which will let them slip into the Higher Heavens, and sent to climb Jacob's Ladder.

Now (they will have been told), the Higher Heavens are pretty incomprehensible to celestials who've never been there. Not to mention ineffable. Get the Seraph Archangels speaking about it and it comes out like speaking in tongues. All True, of course, but not very informative. Part of what the McGuffin relics do is shift their perceptions so that they will see something comprehensible. And not get so overwhelmed by the glory of the Higher Heavens that they don't remember what they were supposed to be doing for the next few centuries.

So, they climb, and climb, and climb...

And eventually they see... A city? A mirror of the Eternal City, maybe? Only upside down above them. (Or maybe they're climbing down the ladder? Gravity and perspective seem to be even weirder here than in Heaven...) [Go watch Utena; the series, not the Movie.]

So, what do the Higher Heavens look like? Perhaps they look different to each PC. (Good for online or PBEM games, tricky for face-to-face.) Perhaps it looks like a steampunk version of the Eternal City as painted by Escher... Beings roam around, vaguely humanoid as well as strange things that have never been seen in the Lower Heavens.

Nothing there looks like a "normal" angel. (Or demon, for that matter.) Play this up for creepy -- the PCs should feel vaguely like kids who have snuck into someplace they shouldn't be. The Smithsonian after hours, maybe. Lots of cool stuff, but with a sense of the forbidden. And weird. Escher, think lots of Escher. And spooky shadows. (If the players ask why the Higher Heavens, which should be so much brighter, are shadowed, tell them that they're wearing the equivalent of relic sunglasses, right? So the tuning on them is a little off; things are weird ever since someone botched defusing that Vapuan Doomsday Device...)

Now, you know that the PCs are going to take it into their heads -- not to talk to the first being on the street that they see (those things are scary, and bugging them might not be a good idea...) -- but to look up someone familiar.

No, really. What sort of creature ought to be immediately recognizable to a bunch of lost little angels...? (Make them proportionally the size of relievers, compared to all the stuff. Little. Itsy-bitsy. Fragile.)

Come on, you know you want to figure out what Uriel's been doing in the Higher Heavens all this time. You're the GM, of course you want to do this. Really. Honest. It'll be fun. Stop twitching.

Even if they don't see fit to find Uriel, you can (if you want) steer them in that direction by having everything they encounter listen to them with mild curiosity, and then speak SOMETHING that sounds like HOW THE DISCWORLD DEATH WOULD TALK IF IT WERE A SERAPH and is basically a blast of pure TRUTH. Which is, unfortunately, too ineffable to really communicate much. Rats.

Depressing, isn't it, when a high-Force Important Celestial is apparently having all the communication ability of a songbird? (Hey, they've been frazzling you all this time, right? Enjoy it.)

Now, the GM can do lots of things with Uriel. Perhaps he's writing "I Will Not Slaughter Everything In The Marches" on a chalkboard fifty bazillion times. Perhaps he's happily training reliever-oid creatures somewhere, obviously rewarded. Perhaps he's a Seraph again.

[In my dream, there was a lot of running around, and sliding down banisters, and someone making a grumpy comment about that 'irresponsible bad boy, Uriel.' This surprised me so much, I woke up.]

In any case, he ought to remember how to speak "low Heaventongue" or whatever, and can probably be induced to help the PCs out. Or freed from hanging upside down over a pit of mimes. Or whatever. And since he's been up there long enough to learn how to speak with the natives, he can intercede. This bit should likely be handled quickly and off-stage. Superior-plus levels of Celestial Tongues can do that, no problem.

GMs who want to bring him back now have a great opportunity to do so. GMs who want to leave him there can rule that the Process Of Un-Squishing The Symphony requires someone to stay in the Higher Heavens.

GMs who want to insert Weird Things can let some other entity from the Higher Heavens come down with them. Maybe it doesn't go away again, either.

GMs who have run this, but not something that sent the PCs into the Lower Hells yet, can take the opportunity to make the PCs go deliver something there. Let something from the Higher Heavens give them some kind of McGuffin (forehead sigils have a nice, traditional feel to them; fancy halo styles are also in fashion) and have to get to a Hell-Tether, get to an entry to the Lower Hells, freeze their wingtips off, and place a McGuffin of another sort (or talk to the Lightbringer, or both, if the GM's up to it) before getting the heck out of... heck. Pyrotechnics of the Symphony stretching back into shape are suggested. Go nuts.

Now... Go on... Do it... You know you want to...


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