Tuesday, September 1, 2020

About that IN/VtM Crossover...

Like I mentioned in my recent State of the Erin Report, I'm working on converting In Nomine to V5 mechanics. This rather necessitates some changes in the setting as, for example, both settings have vampires and the existence of Lilith (Adam's first wife, according to Jewish tradition) but there's disagreement on how they interact: in In Nomine, Lilith is a powerful Princess of Hell who creates demons (the Lilim) for other Princes, and vampires are soldiers of Hell who sacrifice their souls via a dark ritual for immortality and power here on Earth; meanwhile in Vampire:the Masquerade, vampirism is the blood curse God lay upon Caine for murdering Abel, and all other vampires descend from him... except there's some lore which claims that no, actually Lilith may have been the first vampire, and she turned Caine into one and taught him how to use those powers, only to have him betray her in a turn of cosmic irony.

(Honestly, if you think all this is complicated, do not -- I repeat, DO NOT -- research angelology. You will find so many contradictions that it will drive you mad.)

So I wanted a way to tie In Nomine into Vampire: the Masquerade, and doing all that requires a lot of work and I'm nowhere near done with it. However, in the interim I can give you a taste of something related.

This is one of the things which I wrote for my very first IN-hacked-to-VtM campaign as a way to tie the two games together thematically. I wrote this over 20 years ago (!), and it shows. I hadn't been writing for very long at that point, and... well... I had good intentions, but lacked the skill. It's not as shuddersome as a journal full of teenage poetry, but I look at it now and go "Oh, I should have done this, and this, and this. I could have done it so much better."

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, even though it likely won't make total sense to anyone who doesn't know both games.

The Third Thing

She traveled east across the barren wastes. he was hungry, but she did not cry out. She was thirsty, but her pace did not waver. She was cold in her nakedness, but did not shiver. For to do these things would be to admit weakness, and she was a prideful and vain creature.

She was Lilith, the first woman, and she was dying.

Not from exposure, or from hunger, or even from thirst, but from the emptiness of her soul; a great, aching emptiness that tore at her spirit like the rocks at her feet. Paradise had been hers, and she had left it on principle, simultaneously abandoning it and God. It was that abandonment which ate at her, made doubly painful by the knowledge that, if given the choice, she would do it again. Her pride demanded no less.

And so, she hated. It was an easy enough thing to do, a cold comfort of the mind to accompany the cold winds of the eastern wastes. She hated Adam for his superiority; hated Eve for being her replacement. But greatest of all was the hate she harbored for God: for allowing Adam to treat her so, for acquiescing to his demands for a new mate, and worst of all, for not stopping her from leaving.

She hated herself, too, but would not admit it. And that was why she was dying.

"Lilith." The voice seemed to both surround her and tickle her ear with its warm breath. She looked to see who had addressed her, naked and alone in the cold wastes of Nod. She tried to speak, but her mouth was dry and her throat was parched, and no sound could escape her cracked lips.

"Lilith." The voice came again, this time from a point in front of her. And as she watched, an angel of the Lord appeared before her in all its glory: his hair black and luxurious, his eyes as blue as the rivers that ran through Eden, garbed in a shimmering robe of a green more vibrant than the foliage of the Garden. He was barefoot, and where he walked grass grew, the earth turning fertile in each footprint. His wings sparkled like morning dew, and droplets fell from the tips of his feathers into small pools of the purest water. He smiled at her, and in that smile Lilith saw a radiance that rivaled the sun itself. He held out his hands to her, and cupped them, and they were filled with cool water. "Drink," he asked of her.

She hesitated. "Drink," he said again, "that I might speak with you." And so she drank from his hands, and the water cooled her throat and eased her thirst, and did not diminish from his hands until she had drunk her fill.

"What is your name?" she demanded.

"I am but a servant of my Lord, and so, you may call me Eli." the angel responded. "I am here because the Lord has not forgotten you, nor has He rejected you. I have come to bring you succor and peace." And Eli gestured about him, for a fertile oasis had blossomed from his feet.

Lilith shook her head fiercely. "I do not need your mercy, Eli. Neither do I need God’s, for He saw fit to cast me out of Eden when I chose not to be a slave to my husband."

Eli clucked softly. "Lilith, Lilith… you left of your own accord. The Lord did not cast you out, nor did He require such an act on your part. He simply allowed you to leave. The two are not synonymous." He shook his head and turned to regard the lake that was forming behind him. "That is something you will learn, given time." He turned back to her. "And I am here to make sure that you have that time, Lilith. It is a very important lesson. You could say it’s the most important lesson in the world." Eli smiled at her then, and within that smile was both joy and pain. "And when you have learned it, you will teach it to another."

Lilith blinked at him, uncomprehending. "But that is a matter for another time," the angel continued. "For now, your survival is most important. Behold, I have created a home for you: food to eat, water to drink, shelter from the elements. Your life will not be as easy as it was in the Garden, but it will be long and full. You will need to learn many things if you are to survive. Three of them I teach to you now."

"First, you need clothing if you are to keep warm." With that, Eli removed his robe and placed it upon Lilith. The green clothing shimmered, and shifted, and wrapped about her so perfectly that she could no longer tell where she ended and the clothing began. "Second, know that you are never without the Grace of God. If you were, you would have died here today." Then he fell silent.

"And what is the third thing?" she demanded, her voice bitter, her eyes defiant. "I did not ask for your charity or for your counsel. Tell me this, angel, that I might be done with you and left in peace again!"

"The third thing," Eli said, smiling as he faded away, "is that you owe me a… we shall call it a favor for all this. And one day, I will come to collect it in full. So be not proud and cast away what I have given you, for you will one day repay my service, measure for measure." He winked at her. "So you might as well make use of it."

And Lilith pondered this, by the shores of the newly-made sea.

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