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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

[AFTHOTWTTGS] Here Is Lucifer Bound And Chained/In The Dens Of Babylon

So, there's this art installation at a semi-disused church in Marleybone (pron. Mairburn), which is inexplicably being described as 'creepiest' and not 'best' by the writeup in which I discovered it. A man in my position looks at this and can't help but reach for his rulebooks, and the premise of the adventure on offer should be self-evident: that's no statue, but an actual fallen angel - living, and very much incarcerated.

This begs questions. Questions beg answers. Why is it there? What do you do with it now that it is there? Is it an adversary, or an ally, or something more ambiguous? A few notions congealed in my brain-meats, as follows:
  • The Prisoner. This angel has been here for a long time; the consecrated site of its prison gave rise to the church, and it is both caged and tortured here. Physically, it's suspended and bound, unable to rest on the ground or take to the air; spiritually, it's surrounded by symbols anathema to its nature. Once, it was inclined to plead, cajole, or threaten; now it is an embittered and reluctant lifer. Its power, and its ancient insights, are both exploited by an institution that holds it in avaricious contempt.
  • The Penitent. Having surrendered itself willingly to the care of mortals following its self-imposed exile from the netherworld, or perhaps been imprisoned and brought round by fair means or foul, the angel dispenses wisdom both divine and diabolical. Though it tries its utmost to be good again, it cannot help but spin its snares and delusions; its advice is generally sound, but seldom clear or accurate. It remains bound for its own protection, admitting - with a hint of glee - that an apologetic monster is a monster nonetheless.
  • The Power. As in 'behind the throne'. Successive pontiffs and potentates have sought the angel's blessing in their bids for temporal authority, and those who fail to win its favour seldom last long. The bindings are not there to imprison it, but to preserve it within the earthly realm, ensuring that it remains summoned indefinitely - it's happy here, in the heart of empire, not ruling openly but pulling strings with every movement, shaping destinies with every word. Though clearly vile, it sponsors adventurers to quest on its behalf; or perhaps its church are among the major adversaries they face, with a sprawling cathedral-crawl ahead of them, and the angel as an unorthodox final boss.
  • The Peer. One for the Demon or Scion players, I think. Such imprisonment might be how a Demon player character begins their career, and their first task to assemble a cult of sorts from among their captors and escape - brilliant for a solo chronicle, surely? In a more conventional game, rescuing a fellow member of the infernal hierarchy makes a worthy objective for a chronicle - perhaps a Screwtape scenario, where a senior demon dispatches them to retrieve a junior who's failed in its task.
  • The Prediction. This isn't an encounter so much as a manifestation; a dream sequence, an enigmatic message, a symbol - and for what? The compromise of a church? The downfall of a noble house? The consequences of heroic attempts? Maybe the angel is a literal oracle, available for consultation at a price; every question snaps another cord, and when none remain, it will be free to do its worst upon the world...
There's a lot you can do with an angel. I might conceivably use this in a Vampire game at some point, actually...

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