By Moe Lane


The Game Master's Guide states that "the Word-bound are living embodiments of concepts" (page 21). This seems clear enough. Elsewhere in that worthy tome it is indicated that Words are not static: they may be expanded, contracted or even redefined somewhat. This would indicate, of course, that all Word-bound are at least theoretically capable of someday becoming actual Superiors, on either side. Most would agree that this is clear, as well.

What is not entirely clear is the relationship between a Word-bound and the Superior that he serves. There would continue to be one, of course: otherwise, a Word-bound Servitor would not be affected by her Archangel's or Prince's dissonance conditions. The question is, is the connection deeper? Is a Word-bound even more in tune with its Superior's very nature than an ordinary celestial? There is an obvious temptation to answer 'yes' - but what does that mean for a campaign? What are the consequences?

Below are several sets of consequences, all of which answer the above questions in the affirmative. There are no doubt other possibilities, but these should at least act as a starting point for further speculations.

Bright - "Reach out and touch someone."

In this setting, all Word-bound will have an intimate connection with their Superior: close your eyes, and there he or she is. That can be comforting, when you need reassurance. It's also really handy when you need help right now. Any Word-bound in this setting can pretty much ignore the mechanics for Summoning Superiors: your own is no farther away than the inside of your head, and every other one ... well, you can usually get a message relayed. The Celestial Song of Tongues gets somewhat redundant, too.

In this setting, links are voluntary on both sides ... but who would want to shut out his or her Superior? Both angels and demons will find this kind of communion to be deeply energizing, refreshing ... and possibly a way to overcome dissonance. The more powerful the Word, the better the connection - but even a celestial with a Trivial Word will walk proud, because he or she has constant reassurance of his or her worth in the scheme of things.

There will be very few Outcast/Renegade/Orphaned Word-bounds in this setting: the first two types will be able to keep themselves stabilized, and the third will usually seek out another Superior immediately to regain what they have lost. Word-bound Servitors of Creation will be in hot demand, as both Heaven and Hell will want them to try to persuade Eli to come in out of the cold...

Neutral - "He knows when you've been bad or good..."

In this setting, Word-bound keep the connections listed above, to a lesser extent (adding Word Forces/2, rounded up, to Invocation rolls and some uses of the Celestial Song of Tongues sounds about right) ... but the link isn't quite voluntary. If your Superior really wants to, he or she can pop in on your head without too much trouble.

This isn't necessarily bad, per se - but it can be inconvenient at times. Explaining why you have inappropriate friends can be awkward: justifying a particular course of action while on the fly can be worse. In general, the higher the base chance of Invocation, the more often this comes up (Dominic 'shows up' once a week, just like always: Janus usually doesn't bother at all). In Neutral-Dark settings, there's also a possibility that your Superior may choose to operate your body remotely...

Outcast or Renegade Word-bound will not be affected by the above, but it will be easier for their Superiors to stay in some kind of contact with them (the faint echo of the original contact means that one-way messages can be sent). This can range from irritating to terrifying. Orphaned Word-bound will often show a determination to stay Orphaned, the better to keep the voices out of their heads: Word-bound Creationers will adjust to becoming sentient communication links to Eli with varying levels of resignation. And everybody will be watching the Tsayadim and Grigori Word-bound with whatever eyes that they can spare.

Dark - "Free Will is irrelevant."

In this setting, there are lots less Word-bound than just about everyone thinks: less than a hundred, in fact. What happens to the rest of them? Well, in Heaven's case, the prospective candidate is brought forth to the Seraphim Council chambers, the Light of Heaven shines down ... and then one of the Archangels eats the candidate's soul and takes over the memories and vessel of his or her new 'Word-bound'.

You don't want to know what Hell does. Believe me, you don't.

In this setting, every single 'Word-bound' out there is actually an animated puppet for a Superior (and, in Hell's case, possibly every Demon Prince is a similar puppet of Lucifer's). Most celestials never realize this: Superior ineffability clouds the issue, and the new puppet is almost indistinguishable from the old celestial anyway. They apparently show the same likes, dislikes and quirks as the original, but it's all a sham: there's an Archangel or Prince peeping from behind those eyes, and they all watch for any indication that any celestial suspects what's actually going on. Those that do go on the short list for Words - or get to join the Seraphim Council and keep their mouths shut.

In this setting, the War itself is probably a sham: the thirty or so most powerful Superiors may have agreed among themselves to let their inferiors fight each other while their leaders grow fat on the deepest concepts. New Superiors are carefully regulated, and are either the result of long range plans or drastic setbacks (the rise of Haagenti would be an excellent example of the latter). There are no real Outcast and/or Renegade Word-bound, either: just pieces in another arena. Orphaned Word-bound have real value, as they retain within themselves pieces of old Superiors that someday might be revived and put back into play. The Tsayadim are a special case: Uriel may be bored with the game, but he still logs in and makes a move every now and then.

Of course, there are two possible random factors in this game: Eli and Lilith. The former is almost certainly suffering from an imposed exile for a particularly bad move, and may be prepared to scupper his opponents' moves out of sheer spite: the latter may be the only half-tolerable Superior on either side. What Lilith does with her Daughters is roughly similar to the above, but the Lilim retain free will: the Princess of Freedom has never been able to create mobile puppets like the others. She still won't be much of a choice, but there aren't that many other options available to those who Know Too Much...


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