Cupid's Arrows

A Holiday Adventure for In Nomine

by Elizabeth McCoy


Once upon a time, there was an ethereal god called Eros -- or Cupid -- who had powers of love, lust, and infatuation . . . Unfortunately for him, he did not survive the Purity Crusade that the Archangel Uriel instigated to rid the Earth and dreamlands of the ethereal spirits.

In time, another Cupid arose from the myths and dreams that the first had left behind. An arrogant heir, he claimed to be the original, probably even believing it himself.

But ethereal spirits aren't automatically unique; the stuff of dreams can coalesce again. Or, in other words, he's not the only Cupid.

The Protagonists Meet

With Valentine's day nearing, another Cupid has grown fat on the general Essence . . . Literally fat, for it has the form of the traditional plump, diapered, "cherubic" baby with little wings and an adorable bow and arrow. And, drawn to achieve its purpose in life -- making people fall in love -- it's managed to sneak down to Earth. Now it's going around in a semi-visible, gaseous form akin to that of the Kyriotates of the Wind (or Shedim of Theft), shooting people with the Arrows of Luv.

One of its very first targets, unbeknownst to anyone, was the demon Irshe, Balseraph of Lust. Balseraph Captain of Lust. With 12 Forces. And, theoretically, a will of iron.

However, will of iron or not, Irshe was hit from behind by one of Cupid's semi-tangible heart-tipped arrows -- and when he looked up, he saw a young woman passing him on the sidewalk. Instantly, the Balseraph was smitten by the woman (named Virginia Cross), and instantly, dissonant for the caring that suddenly suffused his selfish soul. Oops.

The Plot Thickens

Irshe initially trailed the woman to her apartment building, then fled, confused by the emotions and dissonance within him. After a week where No One Else Will Do for his desires (racking up more dissonance, too, which doesn't usually happen), he's decided that he needs to have the woman captured and brought to him.

What he doesn't know is that, while he was stalking the woman, he was spotted by a Malakite of Creation. The Virtue attempted a raid on Irshe's place of business (the typical brothel-masquerading-as-a-nightclub that many Andrealphans aspire to), and was shot by one of the guards. Without a spare vessel, the angel has had to find some friends to carry out her plans. Unaware of the ethereal nature of the demon's "conversion," she's sure that the Balseraph is redeemable! After all, he's in love with a human, right?

What neither of them know is that Virginia Cross is a "white sorcerer" and Soldier of God. Her contact is an angel of Judgment in the next town over. Her current goal is to track down a semi-substantial ethereal which she caught a glimpse of on the city street, shooting people with a little bow and arrow.

Enter the Players




A Potential Script

Here is one of the ways that the scenario could play out; insert the player-characters at any appropriate point.

Loose Ends

If Irshe succeeds in capturing Virginia, his first inclination will be to ravish her and have done with it. Unless the GM wants a very dark setting, he's not going to be able to go through with it; the Greeting Card Cupid's influence is just too pure. He will imprison her unharmed while he tries to figure out what to do, keeping her under close guard -- usually personal guard -- in one of the basement rooms in his club.

If Irshe is brought to a friendly Tether, he'll be in denial of his selfless twinges. Exposure to Virginia, however, will cause him to run through the Merciful Discord, and his next Discord will be Selfless. (See the Infernal Player's Guide; essentially, a serious case of being unable to be demonically selfish.) It's just a matter of time.

And what does Virginia think of all this? She doesn't like being stalked. She won't be thrilled at being kidnapped. She'll agree to help talk a Balseraph into redemption, though, no matter what her personal opinions are. (If captured, she'll be trying to talk to him about "going bright," which will not be helping Irshe's mental state any.) If Irshe does a suitably angstful attraction-confusion-protection act (which is no act) around her, she'll begin to feel sympathetic. If he redeems, she'd welcome a proper sort of courtship; she finds the typical Seraphic vessel attractive, and isn't put off by snakes.

A Far-Out Loose End

Anyone who kills Virginia will have Irshe, the Cherub, and probably the angelic team on their tails. Ironically, Irshe will be even more easily persuaded into a redemptive state of mind: Virginia has not achieved either fate or destiny, and will likely be reincarnated; there is a Destiny attunement (in Superiors 3) which allows snippets of past lives to be revealed. A Servitor of Destiny would have an easier time of finding his True Love than a Balseraph of Lust.

Non-Player Characters

Irshe, Balseraph Captain of Lust

Irshe is normally a reptilian, cold, ruthless demon. He earned his Knighthood by careful, diligent work -- not a quick roll in the sheets with an angel -- and is proud of his efforts. This sudden rush of emotion is horribly foreign to him; besides being dissonant, he's coming to enjoy these strange feelings. They make him feel . . . bubbly. Lighter. More pleased with simple acts such as breathing or admiring a sunset.

This enjoyment, sensibly, frightens him. He is hoping that once he has satisfied his lusts with this strangely compelling human, he'll go back to normal. But as every day goes by, part of him hopes more and more that he won't go back to normal.

(There are at least three options here: Cupid's Arrow sparked some latent spark of Good in the Balseraph; it was a Divine Intervention; or this Cupid has a subtle power that can cause demons to have selfless emotions. Which is the truth is up to the GM to decide; true or not, the last possibility is probably enough to get angels and demons alike chasing after Cupid!)

For the Lilim and Malakim . . . Need/6 (Get Virginia!), Need/3 (Don't let anyone find out he's Discordant), Need/2 (A new waitress/hooker for his club). Most honorable deed: Recruiting a new-Fallen Habbalite to Lust. Most dishonorable deed: Has fallen in love, recently. Last year's three most honorable and dishonorable deeds: insisted one of his employees get an abortion, healed three new employees of STDs, trained a rival's Soldier to be loyal to Irshe (honorable); let a Servitor of Fleurity do deals in his establishment, had a would-be "protection racket" ringleader killed, fell in love (dishonorable).

Virginia Cross, white sorcerer and Soldier of God

One of the rarest of the rare, a sorcerer in service to Heaven, Virginia's life has been wrapped up with celestials for over a decade. When her parents died in a car crash, her grandfather turned to sorcery and necromancy to bring back his beloved daughter -- and, unfortunately for him, the Demon of Sorcery answered his pleas. By age 10, Virginia was slated as a sacrifice in a dark ritual, and only saved by angelic intervention. Her grandfather, however, suicided rather than be thwarted by angels with flaming swords.

This left the rescuing angels with the sticky problem of an orphaned mortal who was already conversant with sorcery -- and who needed counseling lest she follow in her grandfather's madness. The final solution was for Virginia to be adopted by a Soldier across the country; since celestials are adept at forging Roles for themselves, giving a little human girl a new life was easy enough. To a certain amount of angelic dismay, she insisted on learning more sorcery; one of the rare "white sorcerers" was brought in to Initiate her (in a ritual involving prayer, fasting, and churchly vigils) lest she attempt it on her own. (When a 13-year-old announces that she will learn sorcery, and the Symphony confirms it, a wise Seraph finds a way to make it happen without the risk of using a Hell-tainted, soul-damning ritual.)

She's currently a clerk in an occult bookstore, taking law classes, and trapping or banishing the occasional ethereal who strays through. She's always on the lookout for "dark sorcerers," and prefers to question the ethereal spirits she captures. Much to the discomfit of her angelic contact, Virginia is studying the Summoning rituals. She doesn't intend to use them without angelic supervision, but she does dream of calling up the demons who abetted her grandfather's delusions -- into a room full of Malakim . . .

(Virginia's former last name -- as Mercurians may find out -- was Garcia, and her dark hair and eyes reflect this.)

For Lilim, Malakim, and those with Fated Future and Divine Destiny: Virginia's destiny is to participate in precedent-causing legal cases which will aid in freedom of religion. Her fate is to achieve political office by unfair means. Her most honorable deed was to turn over an ethereal to angels, instead of letting it serve her as it bribed. Her most dishonorable deed was allowing her grandfather to turn his knife upon himself, when she believes she could have stopped him.

In the last year, her three honorable and dishonorables are: worked on building a house for a needy family, adopted two adult cats from the local humane society, and studied for all her most recent finals instead of going to the movies (honorable); is studying summoning rituals when she knows it will bother her family, sold someone an occult book she didn't trust because "the customer is always right," photocopied large chunks of a book in the library.

Her current major Needs: Find the ethereal she spotted (Need/4), Find out if she's really being stalked (Need/3), Get an expensive textbook for classes (Need/1), Get revenge on certain demons of Fate (Need/6).

Little Cupid, young ethereal spirit

Cupid -- this Cupid -- is not overly bright, nor overly big, nor overly anything else except intent upon fulfilling his purpose in creation: making people fall in love. He can sense, vaguely, people who have no love in their lives, and has a deep urge to shoot them with one of his arrows. Being semi-visible (he requires a Perception roll to see) and possessed of some survival instinct, he hides a lot. While he can't go through walls, he is able to slip through small cracks that are technically too small for him -- he's a bit "cartoony" that way.

Cupid's Arrows: These are less relics than pieces of the ethereal Cupid himself, which he manufactures (at the cost of 1 Essence per arrow). They vanish shortly after they've been taken from their little quiver, or immediately after they hit someone. The victim makes a Will roll; if it's failed, treat as a successful Ethereal Song of Attraction, focused on the first person of the appropriate gender the victim sees. The check digit of the "Song" is the check digit of the failed Will roll. If the Will roll succeeds, then there's merely a faint yearning sensation associated with the first-sighted potential True Love. (Alternatively, GMs may decide that if the victim sees someone "appropriate" (by the GM's standards), the victim really falls in love!)

Needs and Deeds: Need/1 (shoot someone who needs love), Need/2 (don't get caught), Need/3 (don't get killed). Honorable deeds: Shooting people who need love! Dishonorable deeds: Missing who's shot at.


In Nomine Statistics

Note that all characters have a "native" language/3 of English; if setting the adventure in a different locale, change the native language appropriately.

Balseraph Captain of Lust

Corporeal Forces - 4

Strength 9

Agility 7

Ethereal Forces - 3

Intelligence 7

Precision 5

Celestial Forces - 5

Will 11

Perception 9

Vessel: Human male/3, Charisma +1 (Sex Appeal)

Role: Erwin "Sean" St.-John, Club Owner/3, Status/3

Skills: Artistry/2 (Drawing), Detect Lies/1, Driving/1, Emote/2, Languages (English/3, Spanish/1, French/1), Ranged Weapon/1 (Pistol), Savoir-Faire/2, Seduction/4, Singing/1

Attunements: Balseraph of Lust, Dark Desire, Captain of Diabolical Delight

Discord: Merciful/2 (and he may have a few notes of dissonance as well)

White Sorcerer and Soldier of God

Corporeal Forces - 1

Strength 2

Agility 2

Ethereal Forces - 2

Intelligence 5

Precision 3

Celestial Forces - 3

Will 7

Perception 5

Status: 2 (Student)

Skills: Computer Operation/1, Detect Lies/1, Driving/1, Knowledge (Law/3, Local Area/3, Occult/2, Retail Sales/1), Languages (English/3, Spanish/2, Hebrew/1, Latin/1, Greek/1)

Sorcerous Skills and Rituals: Banishment/2 (Banish ritual), Command/2 (Command Minor Ethereal Sprit), Exorcism/2 (Exorcise, Exorcise Ghost), Focus/1 (Symphonic Awakening, Protective Ward), Summon/1 (Summon Demonling).

Attunements: Sorcery

(Note that Virginia's skills include the "human defaults" recommended in the Corporeal Player's Guide -- Knowledge/3 (Local Area), Knowledge/3 (profession), Knowledge/1 (hobby), Driving/1, and Swimming/1, as well as a native Language/3.)

Ethereal Spirit

Corporeal Forces - 1

Strength 1

Agility 3

Ethereal Forces - 3

Intelligence 3

Precision 9

Celestial Forces - 1

Will 2

Perception 2

Vessel: Semi-substantial winged baby/2

Skills: Ranged Weapon/4 (Bow), Move Silently/4

"Attunements": Kyriotate of the Wind* (always on); See the Loveless; Cause Love.

*(Cupid doesn't really have a Wind attunement, but its natural ability is virtually identical.)

GURPS Statistics

(GURPS versions of the characters have been "normalized" from their conversion values, so that they will fit better with typical GURPS In Nomine characters.)

Balseraph Captain of Lust

ST 18, DX 16, IQ 16, HT 16

Advantages: Power Investiture (Corporeal: 4, Ethereal: 3, Celestial: 5), Dark Desire, Role +3, Strong Will +1, Celestial Rank 2 (Captain of Lust), Balseraph of Lust

Disadvantages: Cannot Kill, Discord (linked to Cannot Kill), Jealousy, Overconfidence, Servitor of Lust (includes Duty and Dissonance Condition).

Quirks: Attempts to appear unfazable, Sticks to hard work instead of flashy stunts, to gain recognition; Likes dancing.

Skills: Acting-15 [1], Artist-14 [1], Carousing-15 [1/2], Dancing-14 [1/2], Detect Lies-13 [1/2], Diplomacy-13 [1/2], Driving (Car)-14 [1/2], Erotic Art-15 [2], Guns (Pistol)-17 [1/2], Interrogation-14 [1/2], Language: English-16 [-], Language: French-14 [1/2], Language: Spanish-14 [1/2], Savoir-Faire-15 [1/2], Sex Appeal-17 [4], Singing-15 [1/2]

Songs: Attraction (Ethereal)-12 [2], Healing (Corporeal)-14 [4], Numinous Corpus: Wings-12 [1], Numinous Corpus: Ornamental-17 [16].

(The Ornamental Numious Corpus is one suited to Lust, and left to the imagination of the GM.

White Sorcerer and Soldier of God

ST 8, DX 9, IQ 13, HT 10

Advantages: Essence Control +6, Power Investiture (Sorcery), Strong Will +4

Disadvantages: Cannot Harm Innocents, Overconfidence, Secret (Sorcerer), Stubbornness

Quirks: Likes dancing, though she's no good at it; Enjoys SF&F movies, even the bad ones; Ogles (discreetly) tall men.

Skills: Area Knowledge (local)-14 [2], Computer Operation/TL/7-12 [1/2], Detect Lies-10 [1/2], Driving (Car)-11 [8], First Aid/TL7-12 [1/2], Law-12 [2], Merchant-11 [1/2], Occultism-13 [2], Research-12 [1], Scrounging-12 [1/2]

Sorcerous Rituals: Banish-12 [2], Command Minor Ethereal-12 [2], Exorcise-12 [2], Exorcise Ghost-12 [2], Symphonic Awakening-11 [1], Protective Ward-11 [1], Summon Demonling-10* [1] (* Summon Demonling is at an additional -1 because she doesn't know the prerequisite ritual of Summon Minor Ethereal.)

Ethereal Spirit

ST 4, DX 12, IQ 8, HT 4

Advantages: Kyriotate of the Wind (Always On), Symphonic Knowledge (Loveless), Symphonic Influence (Cause Love). (See In Nomine stats note about the "Kyriotate of the Wind" advantage.)

Disadvantages: Compulsive Behavior: Make the Loveless fall in Love, Cowardice, Reduced Alertness -1, Shyness (mild), Weak Will -1.

Skills: Bow-14 [16], Stealth-14 [8]

Article publication date: February 8, 2002

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